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Migrants refuse to be rescued by French warship...wait for the English!


Fifty migrants packed into a floundering rubber dinghy in the Channel were picked up by a Border Force vessel in Thursday after refusing to be rescued by a French Navy warship.

In a two-hour operation, Border Force vessel Ranger raced from the Kent coast to the centre of the Channel to bring the 'agitated' migrants into Dover.

Videos and maritime radio messages between Ranger and the warship Formentin, obtained by the Mail, reveal a high level of collaboration between the French and British over organising the flimsy dinghy's journey safely to the UK.

The migrants are understood to have turned down the French navy's offer of rescue to avoid being returned to France and losing the chance of claiming asylum in Britain.

During the manoeuvres, the Ranger crew advised the Formentin to use its 'powerboats to stay in range' of the dinghy until it could rendezvous for the mid-Channel pick-up.

When the migrants were put on Ranger, the crew can be heard on maritime radio warmly thanking the Formentin captain 'and his team on board' for 'supporting us in this rescue'.

Maritime charts show the Formentin began escorting the dinghy from the French coast well before dawn, soon after it put to sea on a beach near Wimereux, a few miles from Boulogne.

The warship stayed alongside the migrants for four hours as their flimsy craft headed towards the UK in unseasonably rough seas and winds.

The first radio message, on public radio, from the Formentin to Ranger came before 7am when the dinghy was still on the French side of the Channel.

The warship captain said in broken English: 'We ask to the (migrants') dinghy if they need our assistance. They say to me they only want UK assistance. But there is a lot of agitation on the dinghy.'

An officer on Ranger then responds by offering to come out from Dover, despite the dinghy still being in French territorial waters.

The officer says: 'I understand. They (the migrants) are waiting for UK assistance. We are now about to effect our rescue.'

He then tells the warship to use its inflatable RHIBs (powerboats) to closely monitor the migrants' safety until the Border Force vessel arrived at a mid-channel rendezvous.

According to observers in the Channel, the 50 migrants were put on board Ranger, and their empty black dinghy was later picked up another Border Force craft.