Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 May 2019

36 refugees rescued from English Channel in one day

Three boats were intercepted on Easter Monday

The French and British authorities have been facing an upsurge in illegal Channel crossings from France to Britain by migrants and refugees. AFP
The French and British authorities have been facing an upsurge in illegal Channel crossings from France to Britain by migrants and refugees. AFP

Thirty-six men, women and children have been rescued from the English channel by the UK’s Home Office and lifeboat service.

During the national holiday of Easter Monday, three small boats were intercepted and their Iraqi and Iranian occupants taken to British soil.

In the early hours of Monday morning, a UK border Force cutter intercepted a small craft carrying 11 men and transported them to Dover; shortly after a further 15 men, women and children were rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution all-weather boat and taken to Dungeness in Kent.

The final rescue of the day found one woman and nine men on another small boat. Those on board told Border Force staff they were Iranian and were taken to Dover. After medical checks, they were handed over to immigration officials.

Border patrol officials in the UK and France have been working to reduce the number of boats taking the perilous 20km journey across the busy shipping channel.

Head of security for the northern Pas-de-Calais region, Fabien Sudry, said earlier this month that 23 boats carrying around 200 migrants had managed to reach British soil between January and March, a decline from 39 vessels carrying 286 people in the last quarter of 2018.

French authorities have deployed helicopters, drones, night vision goggles and motocross bikes along the 80 km stretch of coast to deter would-be migrants from travelling. British Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a “major incident” in January following an uptick in migrant rescues, ordering two ‘cutter’ boats home from the mediterranean to patrol the Channel.

“Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life and the lives of their children,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

“Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas operations, we have agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

“It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 20 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.”

Updated: April 23, 2019 01:06 PM

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