Author: JOE DUGGAN
FORTY migrants have been rescued from boats trying to cross the English Channel on Christmas Day.
Iranian migrants camp in Calais waiting to cross to the UK
Five vessels were intercepted by Border Force and French authorities as they made their way towards the Kent coast from France. The Home Office believes “organised criminal gang activity” is behind the illegal migration attempts. A Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning (Tuesday 25 December), and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents.
“The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.
“We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk.”
There has been a surge of illegal migrant boat crossings to England in recent weeks, wth many of those making the perilous crossing claiming they were Iranian.
Nine of the migrants picked up on Christmas Day presented themselves as Iranian.
Eleven Iraqis and one Afghan female were also among the 40 migrants trying to reach England, with two of those saved minors.
One group of eight migrants was found at 2.40am after heading towards Folkestone.
The group received medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.
At 5.50am, Border Force was contacted by Cherbourg MOC with a cutter sent to assist a dinghy in the Channel with eight people on board.
Then at 6.50am, Kent Police Ports Unit alerted Border Force to a dinghy off the coast of Deal with 13 people on board, including one minor.
All received medical assessment with one minor transferred to social services.
A fourth small boat holding two people was located after Border Force was contacted at 9.20am.
Another incident in French waters saw a vessel containing nine migrants returned to France due to engine failure after an incident in the Channel, with all nine migrants in the UK and were transferred for assessment at a Coastguard tent.
The 40 migrants found trying to cross the Channel are all now in the UK.
More than 100 migrants were rescued attempting to cross the Channel in November and December before this week’s surge in attempted crossings.
Criminal gangs are believed to be charging migrants thousands of euros for a place in a boat.
Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, has called on UK and French authorities to crack down on traffickers.
Mr Elphicke tweeted: “The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the World.
“Vital for the UK and French authorities to put a stop to this trafficking operation before there is a tragic incident.”