Children among 13 migrants rescued from boat crossing English Channel

Boat intercepted after migrants found inside lorry trailers on ferries 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Sunday 24 November 2019 15:25 GMT
The boat was intercepted off the coast of Kent
The boat was intercepted off the coast of Kent

Children are among 13 migrants rescued from a boat in the English Channel.

The vessel was spotted attempting to cross shortly after 9.30am on Sunday.

HM Coastguard and Border Force were deployed and met the boat near Folkestone and 13 individuals, including several children, were brought ashore.

They were being transferred to a specialist unit for people wishing to claim asylum.

The past year has seen a dramatic increase in attempted crossings by dinghies in the English Channel, prompting increased security along the French coast and efforts to return migrants to France.

Smugglers have also used lorry trailers, including one where 39 Vietnamese people were found dead in Essex in October.

On Wednesday, 16 people were found in a sealed trailer on a ferry sailing from France to the Republic of Ireland.

The previous day, 25 stowaways were found in a refrigerated container on a cargo ship sailing from the Netherlands to Felixtowe.

A report published earlier this month found that the government was risking the lives of migrants by driving them into the hands of smugglers through punitive policies.

The Foreign Affairs Committee warned that the UK’s focus on closing borders “serves to drive migrants to take more dangerous routes and pushes them into the hands of criminal groups”.

MPs condemned ministers for allowing “dire conditions” suffered by migrants in northern France to continue, while instead ploughing money into increasing security and surveillance along the French coast.

The report cited research carried out by the government itself that said crackdowns at French ports had caused an increase in small boat crossings over the English Channel, which the UK has been increasing efforts to stop.

“Focusing on increasing border security without improving conditions in the region may have the counterproductive effect of forcing migrants to make desperate journeys across the Channel,” the committee concluded, and urged the government to improve conditions in refugee camps and process asylum claims faster for those with relatives living in Britain.

Group of migrants from Syria and Iran rescued from English Channel before being treated for hypothermia

The report noted that although the UK had received a smaller proportion of asylum seekers who entered Europe during the refugee crisis of 2014-15 than many other nations, it had felt an impact, including a “changed political climate”.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that at least 18,900 men, women and children have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean since January 2014.

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