RNLI lifeboats rescue 108 migrants amid 290 Channel call-outs

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) revealed that lifeboats were deployed 290 times in 2022 to rescue migrants attempting to cross the English Channel. This is the first time the charity has disclosed details about its involvement in migrant crossings. Despite criticism that the RNLI is operating as a “taxi service” for migrants, the organisation has saved 108 lives in the Channel between France and the Kent coast. The RNLI’s lifeboats, manned by volunteer crews, were launched over 9,000 times around the UK and Ireland’s coastlines in 2022.

Migrant rescues in the Channel now account for 3% of the RNLI’s work. Crews are increasingly encountering traumatic situations during these rescue missions. Simon Ling, the RNLI’s head of lifeboats, said: “We’ve had babies thrown at our lifeboats, women screaming, men screaming. It’s a very chaotic situation. Our crews are trained how to manage that and how to quickly get into rescue mode.”

BBC News reported that 1,100 small boats crossed the Channel last year, with lifeboats being called to rescue approximately one in four of them. Some of these crossings resulted in fatalities, such as the incident in December when a boat capsized, claiming four lives.

Coastguard officers request assistance from the RNLI’s 238 lifeboat stations, with nine stations located along the Sussex and Kent coastlines, from Hastings to Whitstable, being the most involved in migrant rescues. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has criticised the RNLI for acting as a “taxi service for illegal immigration.” However, this criticism has led to an increase in donations.

The charity’s 2022 annual report shows a 3.5% net increase in income, partly due to higher donations, although expenses also increased. Some of the funds have been used to develop a new device called “sea stairs,” a floating platform that enables crews to rescue people from the water more quickly. Ling described the floating platform as a “game-changer,” stating that traditional rescue methods took about one minute per person, while the sea stairs allowed 20 people to be rescued in 90 seconds.

As of now, 8,380 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats in 2023, with 616 people making the journey on Monday alone.

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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