Record number of migrants cross Channel to UK in single day – The Guardian

Border Force intercepted what is thought to be the highest number of migrants in a single day amid warnings the closure of a French camp could prompt a spike in the number of attempted Channel crossings.

Eighty-six people attempted the journey in small boats on Tuesday, with some landing on beaches before being detained, the Home Office said. It is thought to be the highest number of people intercepted by UK authorities on a single day so far.

Two more boats were reported to have been intercepted on Wednesday morning, with migrants taken to Ramsgate due to the adverse weather. Two vessels containing 19 people were picked up by Border Force patrols, the BBC reported. The Home Office has been asked to comment.

Patrols continue in the Channel, with a Border Force vessel seen returning to Dover on Wednesday morning. No people were seen disembarking.

The news comes as a refugee charity warned the imminent closure of a gym in Dunkirk where up to 1,000 migrants are living is likely to prompt a rise in the number of crossing attempts.

Care4Calais expects French authorities to conduct forced evictions at Dunkirk and Calais this week, with hundreds of people displaced as a result.

Speaking to PA Media, the charity’s founder Clare Moseley said the charity had been told the gym was to be close following a failed court appeal, and she expects this to lead to rise in the number of attempts to cross the Channel to the UK.

Many of those living at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym are families with young children, some of whom have fled the Islamic State conflict in Iraq.

She said: “There has been a bit of uncertainty as to when it’s going ahead. The latest we have heard is it’s likely to be Thursday. We think the Calais one is probably going to be tomorrow.”

Moseley said the French government would offer evicted migrants alternative accommodation, but predicted a significant number would return to the coast based on previous instances.

Asked if the closure of the gym would lead to an increase in attempted crossings, Moseley said: “Absolutely, yes. It’s not that they are not trying to cross now, because they are, but it can only make it worse. At the end of the day they are trying to get their families to safety.”

Last month, the home secretary, Priti Patel, said after meeting the French interior minister, Christophe Castaner, in Paris that urgent action was needed to put a stop to the crossings.

Early on Tuesday, two small vessels carrying 23 people were intercepted by a Border Force cutter before being taken to immigration officials for questioning. They said they were Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis and Filipinos, the Home Office said.

At about midday, a boat carrying 18 people near Dungeness, Kent, was taken to Dover by the Border Force, with 14 presenting themselves as Iranian, three as Iraqis, and one as Vietnamese.
Around the same time, a boat carrying 23 people was intercepted in the Channel, with those onboard saying they were both Iranian and Ethiopian, the department added.

Two separate groups, who said they were from Iran, Iraq and Turkey, made it to beaches in East Sussex without being detected at sea, but were later detained and transferred to immigration officials.

The Home Office under the former home secretary Sajid Javid pledged millions of pounds to tackle the refugee crisis.

A plan drawn up in January included a £6m investment in security equipment, CCTV coverage of beaches and ports and a mutual commitment to return migrants under international and domestic laws, the department said.

But the number of migrants taken in by UK authorities so far this year is thought to have already passed 1,000.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working closely at all levels with the French authorities to tackle this dangerous and illegal activity.”

Record number of migrants cross Channel to UK in single day – The Guardian

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