Twelve more Iranians including a 10-year-old child were detained in Britain today after arriving on a dinghy – as Sajid Javid cut short his family holiday to deal with the crisis.
The latest group brings the total making the perilous journey across the Channel to 123 in just seven days.
The inflatable they arrived on also revealed more about the crude steps being taken to minimise the dangers – with petrol cans, life jackets, pumps and drinking water found on board.
The Home Secretary was back at his desk holding emergency talks with senior officials this afternoon, having returned from South Africa overnight and only stopped briefly at his London home to freshen up.
But despite facing anger from some Tory colleagues, Mr Javid warned against expecting ‘easy answers’, saying the causes of the problem are ‘complicated’ and often ‘outside of our control’.
A rigid-hulled inflatable boat (pictured) was found on the beach near Dungeness this morning
The inflatable was stocked with items apparently intended to help the passengers endure the perilous crossing
The latest group of migrants landed shortly after 8am today at Greatstone, near Lydd-on-Sea
The latest group of migrants landed shortly after 8am at Greatstone, near Lydd-on-Sea on the Romney Marsh coast of Kent – about 20 miles south west of Dover.
The group was made up of nine men, two women and a child.
The dinghy was well equipped for the treacherous crossing with a pump to re-inflate the boat as well as a pump and cut open plastic bottles to bale out the seawater.
There were also two petrol cans, food, water, insulation blankets and life jackets.
Witnesses described seeing a large police presence along the quiet stretch of coastline.
Chris Matcham said: ‘I was driving towards New Romney this morning with my sister when a police car came haring past us along the road.
‘We then saw the police car and van on the sea side of the road a bit further down.
‘We saw what we suspected were immigrants standing by the van on the pavement. I think we saw four or five but couldn’t see for sure as we were driving past.
‘Then I went for a walk 30 minutes later and lots of police helicopters were flying overhead. The dinghy was empty and the migrants were gone.
‘The police van was gone, too.’
Kent Police said officers were called at 8.16am to a report of a group of suspected migrants in Coast Drive, Greatstone.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Border Force was contacted by Kent Police at around 8.25am today, Monday 31 December.
‘Border Force officers were deployed to assist with a group of 12 migrants at Greatstone, Kent.
‘The group consisted of nine men, two women and a 10-year-old child. They have presented themselves as Iranian nationals.
‘They all received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.’
The boat arrive this morning on the Romney Marsh coast – about 20 miles south west of Dover
With pressure mounting, Mr Javid – widely regarded as the frontrunner to become Tory leader after Theresa May – chose to break off his family safari holiday in South Africa in response to the crisis.
He was bolstered by support from Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who said the whole world was grappling with similar issues.
‘Sajid is doing, I think, a great job in gripping this situation and making sure we have the relationships and the resources in place to deal with it,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
How visa-free route through Serbia is why so many Iranians are crossing the Channel
The proliferation of Iranian migrants crossing the English Channel to Britain is partly thanks to a new migration route to Europe opened in August 2017 when Serbia started offering visa-free travel to people from Iran.
By the time the scheme was abolished in October following pressure from the European Union, more than 15,000 Iranians had visited Serbia.
Many of these migrants then moved towards western Europe instead of returning home – and many are said to have reached Calais before attempting to cross the English Channel to Britain.
Downing Street also denied that the PM had ordered Mr Javid to cut his holiday short.
‘He returned to ensure he is leading the Government’s response to this issue,’ the PM’s spokeswoman said.
‘She certainly supports the work he is doing to tackle this deeply concerning rise.’
The spokeswoman added: ‘Ministers make decisions about the time they spend with their family. What’s important is that the Home Secretary is here dealing with this issue now.’
Yesterday a boat carrying another six migrants landed at Kingsdown, near Deal in Kent, bringing the total to 100 in a week and 220 since November.
The National Crime Agency said the French authorities prevented another attempt to cross the Channel on Saturday night.
It has been revealed there are no organised patrols by the French between Calais and Dover and surveillance is ‘pitifully inadequate’.
Meanwhile the United Nations warned that Facebook is allowing smugglers to lure migrants ‘to their deaths’ with promises of safe passage to Europe.
Most of the migrants risking the winter crossing are Iranian men who have paid thousands to traffickers for ‘guaranteed’ passage.
Mr Javid has refused an offer of military assistance from Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, and rejected calls for more Border Force boats between Dover and Calais. There is currently one British cutter in the Channel.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured outside his home in London this morning) has battled through a chastening fortnight including the Gatwick drone fiasco and the migrant crisis
Mr Javid arrives home from his holiday to South Africa this morning (left), before leaving shortly after (right) to deal with the migrant crisis
A former Cabinet minister said Mr Javid had ‘totally lost his grip.. and is floundering’, adding: ‘They are praying it goes away and they don’t have to do anything.’
But allies of Mr Javid, seen as the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader, defended his handling of the crisis.
One supporter accused Number 10 of releasing the location of his hotel in South Africa to Sunday newspapers to damage him – something Downing Street denied.
On Friday it was revealed that Mr Javid had told the Home Office to treat the migrant crossings as a ‘major incident’ and that he had ‘taken control’ of the response.
He spoke on the phone to French interior minister Christophe Castaner yesterday and officials later announced that the pair had agreed a joint action plan.
The Home Office could not provide MailOnline with a total number of migrants who have crossed since December 25, but this website’s calculations put the figure at 119 – and this was not disputed.
Trying to play down expectations of a swift solution today, Mr Javid wrote in the Telegraph: ‘The reasons behind the increased crossings are complicated, and in many cases – outside of our control.
‘Unfortunately, this means that there are no easy answers. So our response is focused both here in the UK and abroad.
‘These events are not something that I, as Home Secretary, will accept. Protecting the UK border and safeguarding lives is one of the Home Office’s most important priorities.
‘While we have obligations to genuine asylum seekers which we will uphold, we will not standby and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our global society.’
Revealed: 123 migrants have tried to enter Britain in 16 bids to cross the Channel in just seven days
There have been at least 16 attempts by migrants trying to get to Britain since Christmas Day in the Channel
1) Dec 25, unknown time – Dover – five migrants sail into Dover port and light a fire on the beach before handing themselves in to police
2) Dec 25, 2.40am – Folkestone – a girl is one of eight migrants found after arriving on a boat
3) Dec 25, 4.30am – off the coast of Deal, Kent – 13 migrants, including one child, rescued in the Channel
4) Dec 25, 5.50am – Channel – dinghy travelling towards the UK with seven men and a woman intercepted
5) Dec 25, unknown time – French side of Channel – nine migrants rescued by French officials after engine failed but transferred to English authorities
6) Dec 25, 9.20am – eight miles off coast of Dover – two migrants in a rowing boat are rescued
7) Dec 26, 12.30am – ten miles off France in Channel – three migrants intercepted and taken to Dover
8) Dec 26, 1.45am – off the coast of Sangatte, near Calais – 11 migrants intercepted and returned to Boulogne
9) Dec 27, 12,30am – off Battery Point, Folkestone – nine migrants including three children intercepted after dinghy came ashore
10) Dec 27, 8.30am – Shakespeare Beach, Dover – six Iranian men found after coming ashore
11) Dec 27, 8.45am – off the coast of Dover – eight Iranian men rescued from a rib and taken to Dover
12) Dec 27, 11.30pm – off the coast of Calais – 11 adult men, including five in a state of hypothermia, rescued and taken to Boulogne
13) Dec 28, 3am – off coast of Dover – one Syrian and three Iranian men found in rib
14) Dec 28, 9am – in the Channel – eight Iranian men rescued from a small boat and taken to Dover
15) Dec 30, 7.30am – Kingsdown beach near Dover – six Iranian men land in a dingy
16) Dec 31, 8am – Greatstone, near Lydd-on-Sea – 12 people arrive and are detained