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Channel patrols continue as UK and French ministers hold migrants crisis talks

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent

The Home Secretary is set to travel to Paris for talks with France's Interior Minister in a bid to tackle the migrant crisis.

Priti Patel and Christophe Castaner are expected to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the latest wave of attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel.

Border Force cutters continued patrols along the south coast on Thursday morning in the wake of small boats crossing from France to the UK on an almost daily basis over the last week.

More than 220 migrants - including at least 40 children - have been intercepted by UK and French authorities since Thursday last week.

The Home Secretary has faced calls from charities working with migrants to visit northern France to see the situation, while campaigners urged her to put "dignity" and welfare at the heart of any plans.

A French government official told the PA news agency that the ministers had agreed to meet to "take stock" of actions taken to "combat illegal Channel crossings".

Earlier this week, Ms Patel reportedly tasked the Home Office with finding an urgent solution to the ongoing crossings.

Last week, UK and French authorities dealt with nearly 100 migrants, including 17 children, trying to cross the Channel in one day.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson prompted widespread criticism from campaigners as he warned illegal migrants that they would be sent back if they risked crossing the Channel.

Some charities, lawyers and politicians branded his comments "misleading", "inflammatory", "unlawful" and "inhumane".

The UK has a legal obligation under what is known as the Dublin Regulation to ensure that asylum applications lodged are examined and considered.

In the days following Mr Johnson's comments it emerged that almost 40,000 failed asylum seekers remain in the UK, despite being targeted for removal.

Separate figures showed the number of people offered asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection by the UK has risen to 18,519 - its highest level since 2003 and a 29% increase on the previous year.

In the last week, the body of a migrant believed to have died while attempting to swim across the Channel was reportedly found near a Belgian port, with swimming flippers and a life jacket made of plastic water bottles.

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