Number of child migrants arriving in Kent almost DOUBLES in a year as new figures reveal 1,450 people have crossed Channel since January
- Some 450 child migrants were in Kent County Council’s care at the end of April
- This compares to 257 in same period last year, council leader Roger Gough said
- At least 1,448 migrants arrived in UK since January, compared to 1,850 in 2019
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The number of child migrants who have arrived unaccompanied in Kent has almost doubled in a year – as new figures reveal 1,448 people have crossed the Channel since January.
Some 450 child migrants were in Kent County Council’s care at the end of April, compared to 257 in the same period last year, it was revealed.
Council leader Roger Gough said more children are now attempting to cross the Channel in dinghies, due to a fall in the number of lorries travelling from France amid the coronavirus crisis.
Stowing away on trucks had previously been the ‘typical route for a young person,’ he told the BBC, but children are ‘to a large degree now coming in the boats.’
Among the arrivals were 20 children who crossed the Channel in small boats over the bank holiday weekend, he added.
Pictured: Eight migrants arrive in Dover today after being intercepted by Border Force officials on the Channel
Asylum-seeking children are taken into the care of Kent County Council if they arrive unaccompanied.
‘What we are now seeing, particularly as you can imagine all the changes with lockdowns across Europe and a significant reduction in freight transport, is that actually the boats are becoming a route for those unaccompanied asylum-seeking children,’ he said.
Mr Gough added that the increase in arrivals is putting ‘severe’ pressure on the council’s finances.
Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley estimates there are up to 200 child migrants living in squalor in settlements across Calais – most of them unaccompanied.
There are currently around 500 people in one camp in Calais, while 240 are spread out across three smaller sites. At a fifth camp, there are around 30.
Ms Moseley said the youngest unaccompanied child she has met is a 10-year-old Afghan boy. She has also met a 13-year-old girl without any parents.
Today’s arrivals were spotted by British authorities crossing the Channel near Dover in a badly damaged wooden boat
The eight migrants were given face masks and life vests when they were intercepted by authorities
She said: ‘That’s a rough figure. At any point, around 20 per cent of the refugees are under 18. A lot of them come from Sudan, where they could be recruited as soldiers.
‘And some are from Afghanistan. They might have lost their parents and are trying to join other people in the UK.
‘Coronavirus has made the conditions even worse for them so they are even more desperate to get to the UK. These people have nothing to lose.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The government takes the welfare of unaccompanied children very seriously and provides funding to local authorities, including Kent, as a contribution to the cost of supporting unaccompanied children and those who leave care.
‘This funding was significantly increased in May 2019.’
Some 450 child migrants were in Kent County Council’s care at the end of April, compared to 257 in the same period last year, it was revealed (Pictured: Migrants arriving in Dover today)
An estimated 1,448 migrants have crossed the Channel by boat this year, compared to 1,850 last year in total
An estimated 1,448 migrants have crossed the Channel by boat this year, compared to 1,850 last year in total.
Photographs from today picture the arrival of eight migrants who were intercepted by Border Force near Dover.
The group, who were given face masks and life vests, had been aboard a badly damaged wooden boat when they were spotted by British authorities.
It comes after a weekend in which 125 migrants – including 90 on six boats on Saturday – made it to Britain. On Sunday, a further 35 people were picked up in three boats.
The weekend’s crossings mean a staggering 1,077 asylum seekers have crossed the Channel since Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country in lockdown on March 23.