A heavily-pregnant woman and young children are among migrants to land on Kent beach as smugglers tell them to make dangerous Channel crossing before Brexit ‘closes the door’.
One group of around 16 refugees including 10 young children landed on Dungeness beach in Kent around 8.30am today, and a further cluster of migrants were pictured being rescued at nearby Dover.
It has been reported that authorities have so far been involved in the rescue of more than 120 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning.
Sky News reports that at least seven dinghies and a kayak were seen being taken into Dover, and that another two kayaks have been detected in the Channel.
It comes just a day after 13 migrants – who were Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi, Eritrean and Sri Lankan – were picked up yesterday morning in a similar area of the coast.
The 10 males and three females were taken into Dover to be medically checked and questioned by immigration officials.
It means 3,643 migrants have made the life-risking Channel crossing this year – nearly double the 1,850-odd who arrived in the whole of last year. Last Thursday, a single-day record of 202 people in 20 boats landed.
A heavily pregnant woman and young children landed at the coast in Kent today
A mother and her young child arrived at Dungeness this morning after travelling on a small boat
Another group of migrants arrived on a vessel and were picked up by Border Force patrols at Dover, Kent
It has been reported that authorities have so far been involved in the rescue of more than 100 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning. Pictured: A heavily pregnant refugee arrived on the Kent coast today
This follows the general secretary of the Immigration Service Union, Lucy Moreton, saying earlier this year that people smugglers and traffickers are using Brexit as a ‘driver’ to encourage people to make the crossing.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme in January: ‘One of the drivers, we’re being told, is that people smugglers and traffickers are telling these folk that after Brexit Britain will close in some way.
‘In practice, of course, this is illegal anyway, and it will be as illegal on 31 January as it is on 1 February. Brexit doesn’t make a difference, but we do know that the criminals are using this to try to drive more business.’
Today’s images show 16 migrants arriving on one small boat, with further vessels thought to have been detected off the Kent coast.
One of the kids, a boy aged around four, looked exhausted as he laid back on the pebbles with his arms spread out.
A group of around 16 migrants including 10 kids and an eight-month pregnant woman landed on Dungeness beach, Kent, today
Young children were picked up today at Dover, it is understood 100 migrants have made it to the Kent coast today
The group of young children, women, and a man, sat on the coast at Dungeness, Kent
The children all wore coats and one of the girls had a fluffy red onesie on.
The pregnant woman – thought to be eight months gone – was wearing a black dress and face mask as she held the hand of a child.
She looked weary and had her head in her hand at one point.
Amateur photographer Susan Pilcher, who saw them on the beach, said: ‘I could hear the Border Force workers asking how many months pregnant she was and she said eight.
‘They didn’t speak much English at all.
‘When you think that she’s doing such a risky crossing over the Channel when she’s heavily pregnant, that says how much they’ve been through.
‘It must be such a frightening thing to do. One of the kids was playing with an empty hand sanitiser bottle, filling it up with stones from the beach.
A man who was rescued by Border Force officials is escorted by authorities at the Kent coast this morning
Border force officials rescued the migrants this morning making the dangerous Channel crossing
‘It’s heartbreaking – you can’t imagine what they’ve been through, but for them it’s just like a day out.
‘It was good to see them wrapped up warm – they don’t always have coats on and it must be really cold out at sea at night.
‘I feel so sorry for all of them.’
Border Force, police and paramedics were at the scene and the migrants had their temperatures taken.
Conditions were perfect for crossing with a calm sea and good visibility.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: ‘We are determined to make this route unviable and therefore give migrants no reason to gather on the northern coast of France.
‘France is a safe country with a well-functioning asylum system and there is no need for migrants to leave and attempt to come to the UK illegally.
‘We have offered to work with the French on safe returns at sea and we will continue work to return anyone who attempts the crossing.
‘We are continuing to go after the heinous criminals and organised crime networks putting people’s lives at risk.’
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.