UK border police on high alert after 40 refugees make Christmas Day Channel crossing

Authorities were called to five separate instances involving people from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan

Wednesday 26 December 2018 10:41
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One migrant dinghy was intercepted by French authorities in the English Channel
One migrant dinghy was intercepted by French authorities in the English Channel

UK border police are on high alert after 40 refugees had to be rescued as they tried to cross the Channel to reach Britain on Christmas Day.

Authorities were called to five separate instances involving people from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, the Home Office said.

There were two children among the 40 refugees on Tuesday, which followed several migrant rescues in recent months as refugees have attempted to cross the Channel in small boats.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning, and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents.

"The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.

"We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk."

A girl was among eight people who arrived in Folkestone, Kent, at around 2.40am on Christmas Day.

A child was also one of 13 people on board a dinghy assisted by Border Force off the coast of Deal, Kent, shortly before 7am.

Separately, a Border Force cutter was deployed at 5.50am to the Channel to help a dinghy which was travelling towards the UK with seven men and a woman onboard.

All of those involved underwent a medical assessment and the adults have been transferred to immigration officials to be interviewed.

The children will come under the care of social services, officials said.

In another incident in French waters, nine migrants were rescued and are now in the UK after the engine of the vessel they were travelling in failed.

They have been transferred to the Coastguard to be assessed.

Border Force officials are being assisted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency after being called to an incident in the Channel before 9.20am involving two people in a small boat travelling towards the UK.

All 40 people are now in the UK, the Home Office said.

The incidents follow a spate of migrant rescues in the same Dover Strait shipping lane since the beginning of November. Dozens of people claiming to be from Iran have reached UK shores in the past two months.

Many of the Iranians have been found using inflatable dinghies to cross from France using the Dover to Calais route – the busiest shipping lane in the world.

Agencies contributed to this report

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