Channel migrants CLASH with french police as authorities frustrate attempts at mass launch of small boats
UK and French authorities had been preparing to counter the expected "mass launch of small boats" this weekend, after bad weather prevented the illegal crossings
Large groups of migrants have clashed with police near Dunkirk, after French authorities frustrated their attempts to send dozens of small boats into the English Channel.
UK and French authorities had been preparing to counter the expected "mass launch of small boats" this weekend, after bad weather prevented the illegal crossings for almost a fortnight.
GB News filmed around the village of Gravelines, near Dunkirk, as large numbers of French police officers descended on the area.
Hundreds of migrants were seen heading towards Gravelines on Friday and overnight Saturday.
Our team saw between 5-6 thousand people in several makeshift camps around Dunkirk and near Gravelines yesterday.We filmed overnight as large columns of people walked, under the cover of darkness, down main roads towards the dunes and wooded areas near the beach front in Gravelines.
But French CRS public order officers were out in force, and managed to slash and deflate at least two of the migrants' rubber dinghies, as they were being prepared for launch.
By mid morning, successive attempts by migrants to get to the beach were repelled by French police.Clearly frustrated, large groups of migrants were seen clashing with the CRS officers, who used CS spray to push them back.
At several points, police came under attack from missiles thrown by the migrants, including stones and tree branches.Our producer said there was one or two women and children among the migrants, but the vast majority were young men.
Bad weather in the English Channel had prevented any small boats from crossing since the last weekend in October, when more than 1,500 people made it across in 33 inflatables.
One source told GB News: "The people smuggling gangs have become very experienced in reading both wind and tide in the Channel.
"They know these little boats would have stood little chance in crossing in recent days. They need the winds in particular to die down."
He said authorities in the UK and France have been liaising closely in recent days "fully expecting a mass launch of small boats" as the weather improves.
"We're going to see vastly improved weather conditions this weekend, with the winds dying right down until Monday.
"It's a three-day weather window the people smugglers will take full advantage of, as the suitable days for crossing will become far fewer as we head into the winter months.
"The recent surge in Channel crossings put immense pressure on the migrant processing centres in Dover and Manston in Kent, as authorities struggled to deal with the numbers arriving.
At one point, Manston had effectively become a migrant camp housing around 4,000 people at a facility which is only supposed to hold migrants for no more than 24hours.
The bolstered police presence along the French coast between Dunkirk and Calais comes ahead of an impending announcement of a new Channel security deal between Paris and London.
As part of the agreement, the UK government has agreed pay the French an additional £60 million, to help boost the security presence along the French coast.