More than 150 migrants have been brought ashore in six hours after crossing the English Channel to the UK in small boats – taking the total to 3,123 for this year.
Border Force intercepted 13 boats between 5.50am and 12.30pm yesterday, carrying a total of 159 people – and at least three young children were among the group.
Those on board claimed to Kuwaiti, Iranian, Syrian, Yemeni, Chad, Ethiopian, Libyan, Palestinian, Eritrean, Afghan, Sudanese, Moroccan, Turkish and Egyptian nationals.
A heavily pregnant woman is understood have been rescued from one vessel along with two toddlers, another woman and around five men.
Sea conditions were perfect for making the 20-mile journey across the busy Dover Strait shipping lane off the Kent coast, with clear skies and a gentle breeze.
A young child is carried by a Border Force officer as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought onto the shore at Dover in Kent yesterday
A huge search and rescue operation saw the Border Force vessels Hunter, Searcher and Speedwell involved with the Coastguard’s fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.
In yesterday’s incidents:
- The first vessel carrying 20 people was intercepted at 5.50am;
- In the second crossing at 6.22am, Border Force detained 16 people;
- Two boats were detected at 6.47am – one carrying 16 migrants and the other with ten on board;
- At 8am a lifeboat rescued 18 migrants and a Border Force vessel picked up ten who crossed the Channel illegally;
- A lifeboat also rescued a further 12 people in another incident;
- A further 57 migrants were picked up in six different boats between 8.10am and 12.25pm.
Last week more than 350 people made the crossing, with 137 on Friday alone. Some 180 reached the UK on July 12 – the current single day record for the year.
More than 150 migrants were brought ashore in six hours yesterday, including those above
The Dover Lifeboat and Border Force officers tow small boats into the Kent port town today
Over the past month, 912 migrants have reached the UK – including 691 in July. A total of 1,850 refugees crossed the Channel throughout the whole of last year.
More attempted crossings were thought to be under way this morning, with the latest wave of incidents coming amid a bout of warm weather and calm waters.
On Monday, it emerged that hundreds of boats believed to have been used in past attempts are being stored at a high-security government compound in Dover.
The discarded dinghies and rowing boats, found piled on top of one another, were pictured at a warehouse storage facility on an industrial estate.
The Home Office said the boats in the Whitfield area of the Kent port town are being stored to use as evidence in people-smuggler prosecutions.
A young boy is carried by his father among a group of people on a boat at Dover yesterday
An RNLI officer helps unload the Dover Lifeboat in the Kent port town yesterday
Despite agreeing to launch a Franco-British intelligence cell, it emerged that the countries are embroiled in a row on tactics used to tackle the crossings crisis – particular whether maritime law permits French authorities to intercept boats at sea and take them back to the Continent.
Earlier this month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that no new target date has been set for when the crossings would become an ‘infrequent phenomenon’.
Less than a year ago she vowed ‘urgent action’ on the dangerous journeys, aiming for them to be virtually eradicated by spring this year.
Charities have repeatedly insisted that the only way to tackle the crossings is by committing to providing migrants with safe, legal routes of passage for those seeking sanctuary in the UK.
On Monday, it emerged that hundreds of boats believed to have been used in past attempts are being stored at a high-security government compound in Dover
The Home Office has said migrants should be claiming asylum in the first safe European country they arrive in.
Officials could not give the genders of those who reached the UK in recent days. They were all taken into Dover for questioning by immigration officials.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘They will be interviewed and their cases will be dealt with in line with the immigration rules, transferring to detention where appropriate.
‘The migrants have left a safe country – generally France – and where appropriate we will be seeking to return them.
‘In line with Public Health England guidance, Border Force and all operational staff have the relevant Personal Protective Equipment available to them.’