- The UK has deployed a military drone over the English Channel to monitor and stop migrants trying to cross from France, The Washington Post reported.
- It’s the first time the Watchkeeper WK450 has been used in the UK. It has previously been deployed in Afghanistan, The Post said.
- The drone will relay information to both French and British border authorities, who can then intercept the crossings.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that Channel crossings are illegal, but expressed sympathy for families risking their lives to cross.
- In August, a record 1,468 people made the 20-mile journey. The total number of arrivals is past 5,000 in 2020 so far.
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The UK has deployed a military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the English Channel to monitor — and stop — migrants trying to cross after record numbers arrived in August.
A British Army Watchkeeper WK450 began surveilling the 20-mile crossing this week and is now relaying information to both the UK Border Force and their French counterparts, according to The Washington Post.
UK border authorities have been intercepting people aboard fragile boats, with the police saying that there were young children aboard, The Post reported.
It’s the first time the Watchkeeper drone has been used in the UK, but it has previously been deployed in Afghanistan, The Post said.
The drone, made by the French arms manufacturer Thales, costs $29 million a unit and can fly nonstop for 14 hours with a range of 93 miles.
So far in 2020, more than 5,000 people have crossed from France to the UK.
In August, a record 1,468 people landed on British beaches, prompting prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday to promise a renewed effort to reduce the numbers.
Johnson said he had “a great deal of sympathy” for parents risking the lives of their children to reach the UK, but that Channel crossings were illegal.
On August 9, the UK government created the new role of Clandestine Channel Threat commander to make the Channel route “unviable for small boat crossings.”
The Watchkeeper, which is operated by the 47th Regiment Royal Artillery, underwent a trial run on August 31, The Times of London reported. and began operations this week.
The drone “will provide a leading surveillance and reconnaissance capability, feeding information back to the Border Force and allowing them to take appropriate action where necessary,” a Ministry of Defense spokesman told The Times.
On Wednesday, a new daily record was set when a total of 409 people arrived in the UK, The Telegraph reported.
The UK’s hardline stance on migrant crossings last month prompted the anger of ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, which tweeted on its UK corporate account: “We think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change, and torture.”
British ministers responded by calling Ben & Jerry’s “grossly overpriced ice cream” and told the company to “stick to ice cream.”
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