Saturday, February 08, 2020

Border Force catch 102 migrants including seven children trying to cross Channel to UK in a new record - bringing total to 192 in 48 hours

  • Border Force vessels, lifeboats, and a Coastguard helicopter are out in force
  • One inflatable boat packed with 20 people has been intercepted today 
  • A 'boatload' of suspected illegal migrants landed in Folkestone this morning 
  • Police made arrests before transferring them to Home Office officials 
  • This episode comes a day after 90 asylum seekers reached British shores
  • Hundreds have crossed the Channel this year, despite official warnings not to
  • Millions of pounds have been spent beefing up measures to halt migrants 
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel had promised a clampdown just months ago
A record 102 migrants have attempted to cross the English Channel today, just one day after 90 asylum seekers including 15 children reached British shores.  
Five inflatable boats carrying individuals claiming to be from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria were picked up by Border Force, the Home Office said.
Nine of the migrants managed to get to a beach in Kent where they were detained by police.
The 102 migrants - who included seven children - are believed to be a new record for a single day.
The crossings come after 90 people were picked up on Thursday and as the UK braces for winds of up to 80mph and heavy rain when Storm Ciara hits this weekend.
Across the Channel, French authorities have also detained 'around 30 people'.  
A Border Force boat returns to Dover, Kent, carrying people thought to be migrants after the Coastguard responded to a boat carrying migrants crossing the Channel
A Border Force boat returns to Dover, Kent, carrying people thought to be migrants after the Coastguard responded to a boat carrying migrants crossing the Channel
Pictured is the dinghy which contained the suspected illegal migrants in Kent today
Pictured is the dinghy which contained the suspected illegal migrants in Kent today
The English Channel is the world's busiest shipping lane, with 500 to 600 ships passing through the narrow strait every day.
On Friday, Border Force dealt with six incidents after being alerted to small boats that were headed towards the UK.
In the first incident, at around 1am, a Border Force vessel intercepted an inflatable boat which was carrying a group of 32 people - 26 men and six women - who presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi nationals.
At around 2.45am, a small boat was intercepted which was carrying a group of 13 people - 12 men and one woman - who presented themselves as Iranian and Afghan nationals.
In the third incident, at around 3.55am, a Border Force vessel picked up a boat carrying a group of 15 people - 14 men and one woman - who presented themselves as Iranian nationals.
At around 8am, Kent Police detained a group of nine people - eight men and one woman- at Sandgate Beach who presented themselves as Iranian nationals.
In the fifth incident, at 10am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a boat with 10 men aboard who presented themselves as Iranian, Pakistani, Afghan and Iraqi nationals.
In the sixth incident, at around 10.45am, a group of 23 people - 16 men and seven women - were found on a boat who presented themselves as Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian nationals.
Hundreds have already crossed this year, despite Home Secretary Priti Patel promising a clampdown on crossings just months ago. 
Millions of pounds have been pumped into security measures to stop migrants getting into Britain, including drones and coastline patrols. 
It comes after 90 asylum seekers yesterday crossed the Dover Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, in small eight boats.
That figure, which includes 15 children, is the most for a single day, eclipsing even the 86 who made the perilous journey from France last August. 
A Coastguard spokesman told MailOnline earlier today: 'HM Coastguard is coordinating a search and rescue response to a number of incidents off Kent this morning, working with Border Force, Kent Police and other partners. 
'Border Force vessels Searcher, Speedwell have been sent, along with RNLI lifeboats and an HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter from Lydd. 
'HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.'
Yesterday, a record number of migrants were intercepted by border authorities, including an RHIB carrying five West African men from Senegal, Mali and Guinea.
In another incident off the coast of Kent at 2.15am, 21 men who said they were Syrian, Yemeni, and Egyptian were also picked up on a RHIB. 
All 26 migrants were taken to Dover, where they were medically assessed before being taken for questioning by immigration officials. 
Later, at around 7.40am, a group of 12 men and women were intercepted by a cutter and said they were of Iranian and Iraqi origin.
In the fourth incident around the same time, 16 Iraqi and Iranian men were picked up on a boat. An hour later, Border Force officers caught a group of 12 people whose nationalities have not yet been established. 
Five more were detained at Shakespeare Beach and Samphire Hoe Beach, Dover, around 9.20am. They said they were Yemeni and Iraqi. 
An hour after that, an RNLI lifeboat picked up an inflatable boat carrying 12 men and two women who said they were Iranian and Iraqi. 
Finally, five suspected illegal immigrants were detained by police in Dover town centre at around 11.20am. 
Almost 1,900 migrants - a record number - arrived in Britain on small boats last year. 
The Home Office said: 'All those found, apart from the group detained by Kent Police, were taken to Dover where they were medically assessed before being transferred to immigration officials to be interviewed. 
'A total of 15 people from today's eight incidents claimed to be minors and, subject to age assessment, will be transferred into the care of social services. The cases of all 90 people found today will be dealt with according to the immigration rules.' 
Four young children were seen being escorted by immigration officials at the port, including one aged around four or five who was holding hands with an adult. 
Another child was seen carrying a doll after making it ashore.   
A bearded migrant using a crutch and wearing a hoodie, jeans and waterproof jacket was pictured with a Coastguard worker.  
Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, insists more must be done after the latest crossings - which happened less than a week after Brexit Day. 
She said: 'It is essential that we put a stop to this appalling trafficking trade and protect vulnerable people from making these dangerous crossings. 
'A fresh approach is needed, so wherever boats are picked up in the English Channel they are returned safely and securely to France. We already have territorial agreements for border controls and these should be extended. It's in France's interest too - because they don't want Calais to become a migrant magnet again.'
Tony Eastaugh, the Home Office's director for crime and enforcement, said: 'We are tackling illegal migrant crossings on all fronts with every agency including Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, NCA (National Crime Agency) and policing teams working in tandem with the French and Belgian authorities. 
'We have extra patrols on French beaches, drones, specialist vehicles and detection equipment which have been deployed to stop small boats leaving European shores.' 
Since January 2019, more than 135 migrants who entered the UK illegally via small boats have been returned to mainland Europe. 
It comes after nearly 200 migrants risked their lives to try and cross the English Channel in just one week last January.
At least 180 migrants tried to cross from the continent to Britain between January 20 and January 26, according to figures from UK and French authorities, despite repeated official warnings about the dangers of making the trip in small boats. 
More crossings over January 25 and 26 brought the total number of migrants picked up by Border Force and brought to the UK in seven days to at least 94.
On Saturday January 25, a Border Force vessel was alerted about 5.30am to a boat entering UK waters which was carrying a group of 26 males and two females who have presented themselves as Pakistani, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, and Syrian nationals
The group was taken to Dover in Kent, where they were to be medically assessed, before being interviewed by immigration officials.
The English Channel is the world's busiest shipping lane, with 500-600 ships passing through the narrow strait every day.
Last August saw a record 86 migrants arrive in one day - during a year in which around 1,900 asylum seekers reach Britain. 
On New Year's Day, it was revealed that 1,900 migrants reached UK soil after crossing the Channel during the year.
However, more than 2,300 were blocked in the Channel as they tried to get to Britain illegally in 231 small boats laid on by people smugglers. 

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