Deploying the Navy to stop migrants crossing the Channel would be “unlawful, reckless and dangerous”, human rights campaigners have warned.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, from Amnesty International UK, said that while ministers “beat their chests”, the “real and immediate needs of women, men and children fleeing war and persecution are being ignored.”
“What is needed is cooperation with France to share responsibility for providing a place of safety, including the UK government reuniting families and enabling more people to travel safely to make asylum claims in this country,” he said.
The message comes after the Home Office formally asked defence chiefs for naval support for the Border Force in the Dover Straits amid a spike in people making the perilous journey to reach the UK.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said it was “assessing the requirement using the formal Military Aid to the Civilian Authorities process and are working hard to identify how we can most effectively assist”.
But Valdez-Symonds said the only people benefitting from the government’s “increasing determination to shirk responsibility” was “smugglers and hate-mongers”.
“It is wholly legitimate for people to seek asylum in this country - even though relatively few people do - and sadly, for some, these dangerous journeys are the only means available,” he added.
More than 4,000 migrants have now reached the UK in 2020 by crossing the English Channel in small boats, the PA news agency reported on Sunday – including families with young children.
Aid workers in Calais have reported “unbelievably tough” conditions for migrants in Calais in recent weeks.
Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley said: “Sending warships to meet traumatised migrants is not the response of a civilised nation.
“They are exhausted, scared and defenceless. They are not in any way a threat.”
Moseley told PA: “I have been in Calais for five years and yet every day I hear new...