People smuggling gangs now using boats that can carry up to 100 migrants on ... trends now
Callous people smugglers have started using longer, wider boats that can carry 100 migrants – prompting fears of mass drownings in the English Channel if the huge dinghies capsize.
The news comes as up to 80,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Britain by boat during 2023.
At least 45,755 landed here last year – a 62 per cent increase on the 2021 total of 28,426.
The average number per boat in 2022 was 41, compared with 28 in 2021. But now a French official, who did not want to be named, has told The Mail on Sunday that huge, 42ft-long inflatables are being bought online from China, shipped into Belgian ports such as Zeebrugge and Ostend and then taken by road to Calais where they are inflated and have engines attached.
He said: ‘These only cost a few hundred pounds and they break very easily at sea as they are poor quality.
The new boats, above, from China, are much longer and wider than those currently used, below
A picture of the older type of narrow boat used
'The SNSM [the French equivalent of Britain’s RNLI] is concerned – because if a boat full of 100 migrants becomes stranded at sea, the SNSM cannot rescue all of them as its boats can only hold 60 people.’ Officials fear that if accidents occur at sea this year, more migrants will die.
The biggest single small boat tragedy so far in the Channel occurred in November 2021, when at least 27 migrants died after their boat sank. More than 400 migrants perished in the Mediterranean in April 2015 when their boat sank off Libya.
In a separate development, experts warned that the building of a new migrant detention centre in France will fail to reduce the numbers crossing the Channel. Plans for the centre in Dunkirk, were announced as part of a deal that will see the British Government give £500million to their French counterparts.
But French politicians and charities say the existence of 25 similar facilities in France has so far failed to stop the problem. Under European law, the French government cannot send anyone back to war-torn countries where their lives may be put at risk. Migrants from these countries are usually released, with many attempting to cross the Channel by boat again.
Nikolai Posner, of French migrant charity Utopia 56, said: ‘These migrants have come through a war zone like Libya. Do you think they are