WIMEREUX, France, September 13 (Reuters) – The police unit had staked part of the coast in northern France before dawn to see a group of migrants hundreds of meters away and then emerge from behind the towering dunes of sand, carrying a rubber dinghy down to the seashore.
By the time the officers reached their launch pad, somewhat delayed by a barrage of projectiles, the migrants had rushed aboard the dinghy and headed for England.
“It was a bit like a commando operation,” an officer at the scene told Reuters. “Some migrants carried the dinghy and its outboard motor, while others pelted us with stones to keep us at bay.”
For police trying to stop the flow of migrants making the perilous crossing from France to Britain, the episode summed up the challenge they face in securing the French maritime border: the shore is too long, the migrants too many and too gifted smugglers to evade Security.
The number of landings on England’s south coast near Dover – estimated at around 13,000 so far in 2021 – infuriated the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who accuses Paris of inaction – a suggestion denied by officers on the beach Monday.
“They (the migrants) have traveled thousands of miles and are determined to risk their lives to reach England. They continue to adapt to our tactics, determined to make the crossing at all costs,” the officer said. .
Despite this, French police prevented more crossings and confiscated more canoes than in previous years. Nearby, a deflated canoe, slashed by police, lay on the beach with a foot pump, buoyancy aid and clothing.
Later that morning, another group of migrants prowled the village of Wissant, backpacks and life jackets in hand as they waited for a bus to return to Calais after police thwarted their launch.
A Middle Eastern migrant said it was his seventh attempt to reach Britain.
Report by Pascal Rossignol; Written by Richard Lough Editing by Gareth Jones
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