Royal Navy Ship Sent To Patrol English Channel To 'Prevent Migrants Crossing'

The Home Secretary meeting Border Force staff in Dover today

The Home Secretary meeting Border Force staff in Dover today Credit Gareth Fuller PA

Critics of the United Kingdom government's response point to the fact that 10,000 migrants were picked up from the Mediterranean sea in just two days in 2016, compared to the 539 known to have crossed the English Channel in 2018.

A 33-year-old Iranian national and a 24-year-old British man were arrested in Manchester on Wednesday evening, the National Crime Agency said.

A Iranian national, 33, and a British man, 24, were arrested in Manchester last night.

"It is vital that we are working on all fronts to tackle this ongoing situation and I am grateful to Border Force and other agencies for the tireless work they have done in response to this activity".

The arrests come as it was revealed Home Secretary Sajid Javid had written to the Ministry of Defence to request use of the Royal Navy to help deal with the Channel migrant issue.

According to UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Britain intends to deploy HMS Mersey in the Strait of Dover to help stem the flow illegal migrants to the United Kingdom via the English Channel, adding that the UK wants to "help prevent migrants from making the risky journey".

It would represent a significant escalation of Britain's response to the migrant crisis after Mr Javid earlier this week announced the redeployment of two Border Force cutters from the Mediterranean.

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He is considering asking the Royal Navy to help patrol the Channel.

He said 539 people had attempted to cross the strait in 2018, with 80% of those making the journey in the last three months.

"They've been providing dinghies and small very flimsy craft to allow the migrants and refugees to make that journey".

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is set for talks with his French counterpart, Christophe Castaner to exploit the so-called Dublin regulation, which polices asylum claims across Europe.

However, he rejected suggestions Britain was facing a "refugee crisis".

"People will continue to die and be at mercy of traffickers all the time politicians pretend to play tough for votes rather than recognise why people flee".

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Mr Javid was right to say that the UK's "proud tradition" of granting asylum is not abused.

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"We need to send a very clear message to people that if they embark on this journey, they are taking their life into their own hands", Javid said in a statement Wednesday.

"Because France is not a country where anyone would argue it is not safe in any way whatsoever, and if you are genuine then why not seek asylum in your first safe country?"

More than 230 people have made the crossing by boat since November - a unsafe feat as the 21-mile wide Channel is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Dr Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, said Mr Javid's comments were "deeply concerning".

A spokesman said: "We have a custody extension until Saturday, when I imagine we should have more to update on".

"The outcome of an asylum application can not be pre-judged before it has been made and must be processed on its individual merit, irrespective of how that person reached the country", Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at refugee Council, said in a statement.

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