Sixteen suspected migrants on three separate vessels have been picked up by British authorities after crossing the English Channel on Sunday morning, as fears mount that more people will try to reach the UK this week. Two of the dinghies made landfall on the Kent coast, at Kingsdown and Warren, with a total of eight men presenting themselves as Iranian or Iraqi.
A third boat, carrying eight men was intercepted by Border Force officials heading towards Dover and was escorted by CPV Speedwell into the port.
All sixteen received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview. The crossings are understood to have frustrated officials on both sides of the Channel, who have bolstered their presence in the busy waterway this year. Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered two Border Force cutters, Protector and Seeker, to be re-deployed from overseas to the Channel on New Years Eve.
In the meantime, the Royal Navy’s HMS Mersey, has been deployed to the English Channel as an interim measure to support Border Force and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in their efforts to patrol the stretch of water, keep the UK border secure and prevent loss of life. French authorities have sent Le Pluvier, a 25-crew navy patrol boat to the same stretch of water. The vessel is 54 metres long and can hold nearly three times as many crew as the British cutters. But despite this extra effort, questions have been asked of border officials on both sides of the Channel as to how these small dinghies continue to cross the sea undetected.
There is a worry that more crossings will be attempted this week as low winds, calm seas and slightly higher temperatures are expected in the Channel. One witness said on Sunday: “It was a full moon last night and calm waters. It was an ideal night for anyone trying it. “Tonight also looks like it will be calm. I wouldn’t be surprised if more arrived again tonight and tomorrow morning.”** In a rush of activity on the Kent coastline on Sunday morning, the Home Office confirmed that at approximately 7:00am, Border Force received notification of a RHIB and six males on a beach at Kingsdown. The males presented themselves as Iraqi and Iranian and were transferred to immigration officials.
Shortly afterwards, at 8:15am, Border Force was deployed to Warren Beach, Folkestone, after receiving reports of an unattended RHIB. No people were found in the vicinity, however two males (who presented themselves as Iranian migrants, were detained at Folkestone Police station.
Then at approximately 09.35am, Border Force intercepted an inbound vessel off the coast of Dover. The boat contained 8 males (who presented themselves as Iranian) and was escorted into the Port of Dover.* The MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke said: “The best way to stop these crossings is for migrants and traffickers to know they won’t succeed in entering the UK. “That’s why there needs to be round the clock aerial surveillance to ensure the French authorities are alerted to any small craft leaving the French coast so they can be helped safely back to France. “Only yesterday we saw a terrible tragedy in the Mediterranean. Only by taking a strong stance can we ensure tragedy is avoided in the English Channel.”
The incident in the Mediterranean saw a boat carrying 120 people, including a baby, a child and a pregnant woman, sink off the coast of Libya.
Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said that so far only three of the suspected 120 migrants on-board had been found alive. Already in 2019, 83 deaths had been reported as a result of people trying to cross the Mediterranean, but that number is now much higher.* Last year, at least 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the same sea. So far, no suspected migrants are believed to have been killed crossing the English Channel.
Latest posts by administrator (see all)
- My Neck with the Sky! - April 24, 2019
- Mobility between the Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change: Where to? - April 24, 2019
- Intercountry Meeting to Fight Malnutrition in the Region - January 24, 2019