Border Force use JET SKIS to patrol the Channel amid a surge in migrant arrivals as more than 1,000 land in less than a week
- Home Office confirmed 201 migrants crossed Channel in small boats yesterday
- It takes total number of people to have made the journey so far this year to 4,349
- Rescue operation launched off coast of Hastings at around 10.15am on Thursday
- Border Force officer was seen arriving on a jet ski into Dover following incident
Border Force has used jet skis to patrol the Channel amid a surge in the number of migrant arrivals with more than 1,000 people landing on the British coastline in less than a week.
The Home Office confirmed 201 migrants crossed in small boats yesterday, taking the total number of people to have made the journey so far this year to 4,349.
A major rescue operation was launched off the coast of Hastings, East Sussex, at around 10.15am after people were spotted on a boat in difficulty.
French authorities prevented 171 people from making the perilous journey in nine boats yesterday and Wednesday.
A video appearing to show a group of migrants crossing from Calais to Dover in a boat was also posted to TikTok on Thursday.
The short clip shared by a man named Sada Halak showed a group of men in a dinghy, some wearing face masks and lifejackets, and was captioned with the phrase ‘unsuccessful challenge’ and three crying emojis.
In a separate image, one Border Force officer was seen arriving on a jet ski into Dover following the small boat incident.
A Border Force officer patrols the Channel on a jet ski while arriving into Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident earlier on Thursday morning
A group of people thought to be migrants being brought into Dover, Kent, yesterday. A major rescue operation was launched off the coast of Hastings, East Sussex, at around 10.15am
People are brought into Dover, Kent, following the small boat incident on Thursday. The Home Office confirmed 201 migrants crossed in small boats yesterday
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Criminal gangs are putting profits before people’s lives through these dangerous and unnecessary crossings.
‘More than 3,500 people have been prevented from making the dangerous crossing so far this year and we are cracking down on the despicable criminal gangs behind people smuggling.
‘Inaction is not an option whilst people are dying. The Government is bringing legislation forward through our New Plan for Immigration which will break the business model of these heinous people smuggling networks and save lives.’
The spokesman added: ‘Following a HM Coastguard search and rescue operation today near Hastings we can confirm that all occupants onboard the boat have now been accounted for by Border Force.’
Police and coastguard teams were seen conducting a search yesterday with the help of Border Force, RNLI lifeboats and a specialist search and rescue helicopter from Lydd, Kent.
A coastguard spokesman said at the time: ‘HM Coastguard is currently coordinating a search and rescue response to an incident off Hastings, Sussex, working with Border Force, Sussex Police and other partners.
A video appearing to show a group of migrants crossing from Calais to Dover in a boat was posted on TikTok yesterday
The clip has since been liked 18,000 times and attracted over 24,000 comments. The short clip shared by a man named Sada Halak showed a group of men in a dinghy
‘We have sent coastguard rescue teams from Hastings, Dungeness and Bexhill, alongside Dungeness RNLI lifeboats and the search and rescue helicopter from Lydd.’
A Sussex Police spokesman earlier added: ‘Police were called around 10.15am on Thursday to a report of persons on a boat in difficulty off the coast of Hastings.
‘Officers are supporting HM Coastguard with a search and rescue operation.’
How many migrants have arrived in recent days?
The number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats over each day of the past week is:
- Yesterday: 201
- Wednesday: 157
- Tuesday: 132
- Monday: 71
- Sunday: 17
- Saturday: 144
- Friday: 336 (busiest day of the year so far)
CONFIRMED TOTAL: 1,058 (From Friday to yesterday)
Around 20 migrants were later seen being brought in at Dungeness, Kent, by an RNLI lifeboat around 2.30pm.
The group, who appeared exhausted while wearing foil blankets at Dungeness Lifeboat Station, were believed to be those who sparked the rescue response off the East Sussex coast.
Police were also called after a group of at least 20 migrants – including two children and four women – landed on a beach in Dymchurch, Kent.
A Kent Police spokesman said: ‘Kent Police officers assisted Border Force at around 10.25am on Thursday June 3 2021 following a report of suspected migrants near Dymchurch Road, Dymchurch.’
Around 35 migrants were rescued from a green RHIB and brought into Dover Marina around 10.30am.
They were followed by a further 40 migrants, according to eyewitnesses, who were brought into harbour on an RNLI lifeboat.
An estimated 15 more migrants were also brought into the harbour shortly before 2pm.
It follows Home Office statistics showing that more than 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel by small boat so far this year – over double the number in the same five-month period last year.
The milestone was surpassed on Wednesday when 157 people arrived in six boats.
It took the total number of migrants to make the dangerous journey in 2021 to 4,148, rising to 4,349 yesterday, compared to 1,737 by June 2 last year.
A flurry of late crossings on Wednesday saw a lifeboat called out to help deal with at least two boats.
A Border Force worker accompanies a migrant after he arrived at Dover Marina in Kent yesterday following a small boat incident
A group of migrants were brought into Dover Marina in Kent on Thursday morning after crossing the Channel in a small boat
A child was helped off a boat at Dover Marina in Kent yesterday as migrants continued to arrive at the south coast
Families and many young children were rescued. Some were seen waving as they were brought into Dover Marina, Kent, for processing.
It came after around 50 migrants were rescued in three boats during the morning. French authorities also prevented three crossings involving 75 people.
And numbers are set to continue to rise with Border Force intercepting more migrants yesterday.
It follows a record-breaking 1,619 arrivals in May in 80 boats – almost doubling the previous monthly record set earlier this year in March when 831 people made the crossing in 42 boats.
Migrants crossing the Channel in small boats
- January 2020 – 87
- February 2020 – 192
- March 2020 – 187
- April 2020 – 530
- May 2020 – 741
- June 2020 – 702
- July 2020 – 1118
- August 2020 – 1,468
- September 2020 – 1,954
- October 2020 – 463
- November 2020 – 757
- December 2020 – 211
- January 2021 – 223
- February 2021 – 308
- March 2021 – 831
- April 2021 – 746
- May 2021 – 1,619
This year’s daily record was also surpassed on Friday when 336 migrants were intercepted in 19 boats.
It comes as ministers face calls to shut down a former army barracks being used to house asylum seekers after a High Court judge found the accommodation failed to meet the ‘minimum standard’.
Campaigners want to see Napier Barracks in Kent closed after six asylum seekers previously housed there won a legal challenge against the Government, with Mr Justice Linden finding the Home Office acted unlawfully when deciding the ex-military camp was appropriate.
Meanwhile, Labour has called for ministers to urgently explain ‘how this injustice occurred’.
Campaigners have repeatedly raised concerns about the site while inspectors described parts of it as ‘filthy’.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and immigration minister Chris Philp have both defended the use of such sites in the past, despite the Home Office facing criticism.
Mariam Kemple Hardy, head of campaigns at Refugee Action, said: ‘This judgment vindicates all those who repeatedly told the Government that recklessly forcing hundreds of refugees into crowded camps during a killer pandemic was a gamble with people’s lives.
‘Napier Barracks and all other camp-style accommodation must be shut down.’
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said it was a ‘shameful verdict’ for the Government and Home Secretary, describing the Home Office’s actions as ‘reckless and callous’.
He added: ‘Ministers should make a statement – urgently – to explain how this injustice occurred, who will be held to account, and how they will ensure it can never happen again.’
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, described the barracks as ‘ghettoised, detention-like accommodation’ which was ‘unsafe, undignified, and inhumane’, adding: ‘People have told us they don’t feel human while they’re residing at Napier.’
A migrant is escorted to Dover Marina by a Border Force official yesterday morning following a small boat incident in the Channel
A group of migrants landed on the beach up the coast at Dymchurch in Kent on Thursday
There was a further group of migrants brought in from Hastings by the Dungeness Lifeboat in Kent yesterday afternoon
Jon Featonby, refugee and asylum policy manager at British Red Cross, said there was a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a fair, compassionate and efficient asylum system through reform’ and ‘that should start with the immediate ending of the use of military barracks to house people.’
Sonya Sceats, chief executive of charity Freedom from Torture, accused the Government of disregarding ‘its duty to provide adequate housing’.
She added: ‘Our message to Priti Patel is clear: shut down Napier Barracks, house people seeking protection within our communities, and deliver the compassionate and fair asylum system you promised.’
However, the judge declined to rule that the barracks could never be used to house asylum seekers, and said his findings are based on the conditions the six men faced.
The Home Office defended the use of the barracks – needed ‘at extremely short notice’ during the pandemic to make sure ‘asylum seekers were not left destitute’ – insisting it was ‘safe and secure’ and that improvements have since been made.
But Ms Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s World At One ‘we simply don’t know’ if conditions have now improved, adding that she wanted to call Ms Patel before her committee again to explain the situation.
A Home Office spokesman added: ‘We will carefully consider the ruling and our next steps.’
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