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Dozens of migrants rescued from boats as France and UK sign new deal

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By Euronews
Dinghy with suspected migrants being intercepted by a UK Border Force boat, Aug 2020
Dinghy with suspected migrants being intercepted by a UK Border Force boat, Aug 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Dozens more migrants were rescued by the French coastguard in the English Channel over the weekend as officials agreed a new deal with the UK to reduce the number of crossings.

A boat carrying 19 migrants was stopped by customs officials early on Sunday morning off the coast of Boulogne-sur-mer.

The regional radio network France Bleu reported two of the children on board were suffering from hypothermia.

A further 45 migrants were rescued on Saturday after their boat's engine failed near Leffrincoucke, the coastguard said.

It came on the weekend the UK and French interior ministers signed an agreement in which they "reaffirmed their commitment to make this route unviable".

More than 8,000 people have reached the UK so far this year, after making the dangerous crossing on small boats, latest figures show.

UK interior minister Priti Patel announced that the number of officers patrolling French beaches would double, and new equipment including drones and radar would be employed.

"Thanks to more police patrols on French beaches and enhanced intelligence sharing between our security and law enforcement agencies, we are already seeing fewer migrants leaving French beaches," she said.

However, the UK Home Office did not say how many more officers would be deployed.

Patel told UK media that French authorities had stopped 5,000 migrants from travelling to the UK so far this year. She said over the last ten years, the UK had given France £150 million (€166.8 million) to tackle immigration.

At Saturday's meeting, the ministers also agreed on steps to better support migrants arriving in France to find appropriate accommodation "in order to take them out of the hands of criminal gangs".

They agreed on measures to increase border security at ports in northern and western France to target smugglers and avoid migrant crossings threatening freight traffic.

Britain is also planning to introduce new asylum system legislation next year.