Around 30 including two children cross the Channel

Migrants make the most of the calm weather as around 30 including two children cross the Channel days before Christmas – as arrivals soar to more than 27,000

  • Migrants, including children, were brought ashore by Border Force officers
  • Groups  wrapped in blankets and wearing life jackets into the port at Dover
  • A man was seen carrying a young child over his shoulder as they disembarked

Up to 30 migrants, including two children, were brought ashore by Border Force officers today after they made the most of the calmer waters to cross the English Channel.  

The group of migrants, who were wrapped in blankets and wearing life jackets, were brought into the Dover Marina, in Kent, at around 9am before they were led up a gangway by staff and taken to a facility on the quayside.

Among the migrants was a man who was seen carrying a young child over his shoulder as they disembarked. 

Small boat crossings had briefly stopped due to high winds and strong tides in recent weeks, but have since restarted due to calmer waters in the Channel. 

The scenes come after figures showed more than 27,000 people have made the 21-mile journey to the UK this year after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats – compared to 8,400 in 2020. 

Migrants, including children, are brought into the Dover Marina, in Kent, are led up a gangway by staff and taken to a facility

A man carried a young child as walk towards a facility on the quayside after crossing the Channel this morning

Border Force assist children off boats and take them to a facility on the quayside today

On Sunday, the UK authorities intercepted 274 people from 11 boats – a higher figure than the 211 people accounting for the entirety of December last year – amid thick fog hampering visibility.  

The Border Force cutter Speedwell brought in the first group, consisting of around eight men draped in red blankets for warmth, at around 8.30am.

Their large black dinghy was towed in as they were escorted up the gangway at Dover Marina, Kent for processing.

Young children were on board Border Force’s huge catamaran Hurricane when it docked around 10am.

A father was seen carrying a young barefooted boy, no more than three years of age, wearing a blue coat as his mother carried his shoes.

Their partially deflated khaki RHIB filled with lifejackets and foil blankets was left in the harbour.

And 34 migrants were brought to shore at Dungeness, Kent on a RNLI lifeboat around 11am.     

On Friday, British authorities rescued 358 people from 10 boats, and French authorities intercepted at least 317 people in 11 boats on Thursday and Friday. 

The Home Office is yet to confirm exactly how many made the 21-mile crossing today.

Last month a total of 27 people were thought to have died, including seven women, a teenager and a seven-year-old girl, when their boat sank while trying to cross the Channel.

Figures show more than 27,000 people have made the 21-mile journey to the UK this year


An inflatable boat, life vests and other remains left on a sand dune of the Wimereux beach, northern France, are pictured on December 20, 2021

Dan O’Mahoney, clandestine Channel threat commander, said: ‘Last month’s tragedy is a devastating reminder of the dangers of Channel crossings and we are determined to work with our European and international partners to target the ruthless organised criminal gangs behind them.

What happens to migrants after they arrive in the UK? 

Migrants who have been picked up after landing or intercepted at sea are taken to a Border Force processing centre, usually near Dover 

Here arrivals are triaged to identify any medical needs or vulnerabilities, fed and checked to see if they have a criminal record. Adults have an initial interview before being sent to accommodation centre across Britain, paid for by UK taxpayers and provided by private contractors.

The migrants are given £37.75 per week for essentials like food, clothes and toiletries while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. Kent County Council normally takes unaccompanied children into its care, although other local authorities are also involved in this programme.

Other migrants might be kept in a detention centre ahead of a plan to send them back to Europe. However, just five were deported last year as ministers admitted to ‘difficulties’. 

While a member of the EU, Britain was part of the Dublin Regulation, an EU-wide deal that required migrants to apply for asylum in the first member state they arrive in and could be deported back to that country if they moved on to another.

However, since Brexit there has been no formal arrangements to allow migrants to be deported to France or another EU member country.  

‘Unbelievably, these gangs continue their deadly trade with more crossings taking place today, shamelessly putting lives at risk.

‘People planning to make the journey should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach instead of risking their lives by crossing the Channel from a safe EU country.

‘The Government’s New Plan for Immigration will be firm on those coming here via illegal routes and fair for those using safe and legal routes. This will reduce the pull factors in the current asylum and immigration system.’

It came as the Inspectorate of Prisons and the Dover and Heathrow Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) – made up of volunteers tasked by ministers – published their findings on migrant detention facilities visited in the last three months.

Women who said they had been raped by smugglers were ‘not adequately supported’ and lone children were being held with unrelated adults, the report said.

Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, said up to 45 children were seen sleeping on the floor ‘in an incredibly cramped facility with the lights on all night’, adding that one unit contained an adult with a criminal record.

Mr Taylor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘They [the children] get processed when they first arrive at Tug Haven then they’re moved to somewhere called Kent Intake Unit, where we’re seeing what looks like a normal doctor’s waiting room.

‘We’re seeing up to 45 children having to spend the night not even on mattresses, but just on the floor in an incredibly cramped facility with the lights on all night.

‘The other concern is they’re supposed to be for children only but we’re actually seeing adults in there including one adult with a criminal record, and also families in there as well, without a proper assessment of the risk these children may potentially be suffering.’

Speaking on the report’s findings, he added: ‘There have been a few minor improvements but we’re really concerned about the number of people who are arriving and the general chaos at Dover, and the fact that children unaccompanied, and often very vulnerable, just aren’t being looked after properly.’

In a statement, the Chief Inspector of Prisons also said: ‘Our last inspection in September 2020 found that these facilities were badly equipped to meet their purpose.

‘Following that inspection, we were assured by the Home Office that rapid action would be taken to improve both strategic planning and the conditions in which detainees were held.

‘However, despite some limited progress, detainees, including large numbers of unaccompanied children, continued [in 2021] to experience very poor treatment and conditions.

‘It is unclear why there had been such delays following the assurances that we were given by the Home Office after our last inspection.

‘Leaders told us of difficulties in co-ordinating the various partners whose co-operation was required, but this was not a sufficient explanation for why, one year later, we still found people being held for even longer in conditions that were so inadequate.’

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