Border Force intercept 20 Syrian migrants over Dover coast

10 August 2020, 08:21

Border Force officers aboard HMC Hunter speak to group of people, thought to be migrants, after they were stopped as they crossed The Channel in a small boat headed in the direction of England.
Border Force officers aboard HMC Hunter speak to group of people, thought to be migrants, after they were stopped as they crossed The Channel in a small boat headed in the direction of England. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Around 20 Syrian migrants have been stopped by the Border Force off the coast of Dover.

A packed inflatable dinghy was crossing the English Channel on Monday morning before being intercepted by the Immigration patrol vessel.

Those on board were seen waving and smiling on their journey before the Border Force patrol boat Hunter stopped them at about 7.15am with the White Cliffs in sight.

It comes after a weekend of record numbers making the crossing to British soil.

More than 677 people made it to the UK in a surge of crossings between Thursday and Sunday.

This brings the total number of migrants reaching UK shores by crossing the dangerous Dover Strait in small boats to 4,000 this year.

Border Force officers assist a group of people, thought to be migrants, aboard HMC Hunter after they were stopped as they crossed The Channel in a small boat headed in the direction of England
Border Force officers assist a group of people, thought to be migrants, aboard HMC Hunter after they were stopped as they crossed The Channel in a small boat headed in the direction of England. Picture: PA

As we reported the Home Office has made an official request to the Royal Navy to assist with operations in the Channel.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has also appointed a former Royal Marine to the post of "clandestine Channel threat commander".

The Home Office is facing criticism in recent weeks and the Government has been accused of being "increasingly chaotic" in its handling of the crisis.

At least 65 migrants made it to the UK aboard four boats on Sunday, the Home Office said.

Dramatic pictures a boat carrying around 20 migrants wearing lifejackets motoring across the Channel.

At least one woman was among their number.

The journey can be dangerous in the best of weather, but seas early on Monday were choppy.

One migrant could be seen bailing out water with a plastic container from the boat, which sat low in the water, while another was spotted smoking a cigarette.

When asked how they were, many of the migrants put their thumbs up and replied that they were OK.

As they drew within sight of Dover they were met by Border Force, and it is expected that they will be taken ashore later this morning.

Asked if the Navy should be involved, care minister Helen Whately told BBC Breakfast: "We need to bring this to an end.

"The Home Secretary's determined that this will not be a viable route to the UK and my colleague Home Office minister Chris Philp is going to be in Paris later this week to talk directly with the French Government about working together to stop this transit."

She added: "Options are being looked at to how we make sure that we stop this passage of boats across the Channel and the Home Secretary has appointed Dan O'Mahoney, a former Royal Marine, to lead the efforts on this front and will look at all the best ways to do so."

Asked about the "pushback" model used in Australia and if it was being looked at, she said: "Not as far as I know. I think we shouldn't suggest that there are any simple or easy answers to this ... This is a really dangerous journey, we need to put a stop to it, we also need to put a stop to the payment to people smugglers who are enabling this to take place, this is not the right way to come to the UK."

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