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Baby strapped to woman among ‘1,000 migrants’ who crossed Channel on Monday

Four other children were among those who arrived in Kent on Monday

Celine Wadhera
Tuesday 07 September 2021 11:50 BST
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A group of people thought to be migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel on Monday
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel on Monday (PA)

A baby and four other children were among an estimated 1,000 migrants who crossed the English Channel in small boats on Monday.

A packed lifeboat that was photographed arriving on a beach in Dungeness in Kent was one of four that made the journey across the Channel today.

Upon reaching the shore, passengers were led away to be processed. Among them was a woman who could be seen clutching an infant who was strapped to her. Other passengers who made the journey were escorted by authorities to safety.

Eyewitnesses said that Border Force and the RNLI were dealing with a steady stream of people arriving now that the weather has improved, with reports suggesting that between 1,000 and 1,200 migrants made the crossing in one day.

While the Home Office has not yet confirmed the figure, government sources told The Times that this was likely the first time that crossings surpassed 1,000 in one day. The previous daily record was 828 crossings, recorded on 21 August.

Channel crossings had ceased for two weeks due to poor weather but began again on Sunday when a small boat, also carrying small children and an infant, arrived in Dover.

If the record number of arrivals from Monday is confirmed, more than 13,500 people are understood to have crossed into the UK aboard small boats in 2021, surpassing the 8,417 crossings that were recorded in 2020.

Despite the increase, the UK receives far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims when compared with many of its European counterparts.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The issue is that, very sadly, I think our friends across the Channel in France are faced with a very difficult problem.

“A large number of people want to come to this country, and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do the necessary [thing] and impede their passage.

“But I know the home secretary is working around the clock to ensure that we not only encourage the French to stop people making the journey, but we use every possible tactic available to us as well.”

Last year, the UK and France signed an agreement to curb the number of Channel crossings, with France committing to double the number of police patrolling a 150km stretch of coast that is often used by people-smuggling networks.

Priti Patel and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin said that they wanted to make the route “unviable”.

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