Friday, October 23, 2020
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Record 400-plus migrants cross Channel in one day

Migrants intercepted by Border ForceImage copyright
PA Media

Image caption

Small children were among those arriving in Dover after crossing the English Channel

More than 400 migrants have crossed the English Channel in small boats – a record for a single day.

Border Force has intercepted 409 people, including young children, on board 27 boats, with several further vessels still being dealt with.

Some of the migrants were carrying children too young to walk.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier on Wednesday said the UK had become “a target and a magnet for those who would exploit vulnerable people in this way”.

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

More than 100 migrants arrived in Dover after being picked up by Border Force and RNLI vessels

A further 53 people were rescued by French authorities after getting into difficulties before reaching British waters.

Some 145 people had crossed the Channel in 18 small boats on Tuesday.

Rough seas brought on by Storm Francis made crossings impossible at the end of August, but conditions have improved in the first two days of September.

Image copyright

Image caption

French authorities rescued 53 people on Wednesday

Speaking in the Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said: “I have a great deal of sympathy with those who are desperate as to put their children in dinghies or in children’s paddling pools and try to cross the channel.

“But I have to say what they’re doing is falling prey to criminal gangs and they are breaking the law.”

He added: “It also undermines the legitimate claims of others who seek asylum in this country.

“We will address the rigidities in our laws that make this country, I’m afraid, a target and a magnet for those who would exploit vulnerable people in this way.”

Image caption

One group landed at Shakespeare Beach in Dover

Channel crossings by migrants in small boats

Number of people reaching the UK each month since August 2019

More than 1,468 migrants made the crossing by small boat in August despite a vow from Home Secretary Priti Patel to make the dangerous route “unviable”.

The Home Office does not provide information on how many children are making the crossing on small boats.

Home Office minister Chris Philp told the Commons on Wednesday the government was attempting to return 1,000 people who had arrived in the UK, having “previously claimed asylum in European countries, and under the regulations legally should be returned there”.

More than 7,400 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats since January 2019.

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