FRANCE NEWS: Decathlon stops canoe sales in northern France to curb migrant crossings

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The sport equipment retailer Decathlon will no longer sell canoes in the north of France to prevent migrants from attempting to use them to cross to England.

Tuesday’s announcement came as hundreds of people crossed the Channel by boat in what was a busy day for UK search and rescue forces. There were multiple landings along the Kent coastline, including about 60 people who landed at Dungeness shortly before 4pm.

On Friday, three migrants were reported missing after trying to cross the Channel to Britain in canoes, while two canoes were found adrift off Calais on Thursday and two people were fished out of the water.

A jet ski thought to have been used in a migrant crossing is inspected in Dungeness, Kent. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

The Home Office said 1,185 people arrived on small boats on Thursday, a record for the current migration crisis, surpassing the previous high of 853 set earlier this month.

The canoes will continue to be available for online purchase and in other stores. Other safety equipment, such as lifejackets and thermal protection, will still be sold in the Calais and Grande-Synthe stores.

“The purchase of canoes will no longer be possible” in Decathlon stores in Calais and Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, “given the current context”, the retailer told AFP.

The items were not being used for their original sporting purpose, but “could be used to cross the Channel”, it said. In such cases, “people’s lives would be endangered”, the retailer argued.

The stores themselves had decided to stop selling the canoes and management had approved the decision, Decathlon said.

Earlier on Tuesday, French police cleared a major migrant camp that was home to about a thousand people hoping to reach Britain. Tensions are high between London and Paris over Channel crossings.

The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, spoke to his British counterpart, Priti Patel, on Monday, but only after giving a blunt interview in which he said Britain should “stop using us as a punch-ball in their domestic politics”.

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