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Anti-arms trade campaigners condemn government's migration policies as ministers promise new action to stop Channel crossings

ANTI-ARMS campaigners condemned the government's policies and approach to migration today as ministers promised a “new, comprehensive” action plan to stop people from crossing the Channel.

Immigration minister Chris Philp made the promise to stem the latest surge in migrant crossings after talks with French officials to seek stronger enforcement measures.

Mr Philp said the “sheer numbers” crossing the Channel were “completely unacceptable” and while he would not comment on details of the plan, he claimed there were a “number of measures, some of them new, which were under discussion.”

He said both countries had “renewed and reaffirmed their absolute commitment to make sure this border is properly policed and this route is completely ended.”

This week, the government sent air-force surveillance planes to monitor the Channel, following days of hostile media reports and calls from Conservative MPs and far-right leaders for tighter restrictions on migrants. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel also said she was considering sending in naval officers.

Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Andrew Smith said: “There is not a ‘migrant crisis,’ it is a crisis of war, poverty, inequality and exploitation. 

“Politicians in the UK and beyond need to stop blaming the victims of these crises and consider their own complicity and role in creating the circumstances that have displaced so many people.

“Instead they are sending UK armed forces to the Channel to intimidate the people that are crossing it.”

Mr Smith warned that people’s lives were on the line, and they must not be used as a “cynical political tool by a government that has a long history of arming human-rights abusers and fuelling conflict.

“People that have left desperate and unstable situations need safe and legal routes to asylum and to be reunited with friends and family,” he said. 

“They should not be met by hostile-environment policies and shameful political attacks.”

Detention Action charity director Bella Sankey said: “Any ‘comprehensive plan’ must create a safe and legal route for those who would otherwise risk a Channel crossing, otherwise it is neither comprehensive nor an effective plan.”

More than 4,000 migrants have completed the dangerous journey so far this year, with at least 597 arriving between Thursday and Sunday.

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