There has been a fresh wave of attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel from France to the UK in small boats, with nearly 100 people involved on Thursday and more incidents taking place on Friday.
The Home Office said officials dealt with 64 people, including at least six children, who tried to reach England in small boats in six separate incidents on Thursday. While French authorities said they found 30 migrants, including 11 children, that same day.
– At 2.30am, the Border Force was alerted to a small boat travelling across the Channel towards the UK coast. A group of eight men and one woman, who all said they were Iranian nationals, was found and taken to Dover.
– At 5am, a Border Force cutter intercepted another small boat and a group of 11 males was taken to Dover. The group, including two who said they were children, said they were nationals of Iran, Guinea, Kuwait, and the Ivory Coast.
– Two hours later, six men, who said they were Iranian nationals, were spotted on a small boat and taken to Dover.
– At 11.30am, the Border Force was sent out to a boat carrying 11 people, including four who said they were children, who all claimed to be Iranian nationals.
– At the same time, Border Force was called to Winchelsea beach in East Sussex and found 11 migrants.
– Around half an hour later, officials were alerted to another small boat crossing the Channel which was escorted to Dungeness by the Hastings lifeboat. Some 16 people – who said they were Iranian and Vietnamese – were handed over to immigration officials.
– French authorities said they found 30 migrants, including 11 children, attempting to make the crossing. The Home Office said that the 30 people picked up by the French were all taken back to the continent.
– Early in the morning, the French coastguard said 24 migrants, reportedly including seven children and a woman, were also found trying to cross the Channel.
– Shortly after 9am, a Border Force patrol boat intercepted a group of 11 people – nine men and two women who said they were nationals from Iran and Niger. They were taken to Dover and handed over to immigration officials, the Home Office said.
A Home Office spokeswoman said attempting such crossings was a ‘huge risk’ and ‘the criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life’.
She added: ‘We have three Border Force cutters in the Channel and a joint action plan with France in place, including a co-ordination centre in Calais which assists with preventing illegal attempts to cross the border.
‘We continue to monitor the ongoing situation and are working closely at all levels with French authorities on the issue.’