Record number of migrants make it to UK shores amid Bank Holiday surge

10 May 2020, 13:07

Border Force officers prepare to bring to shore men thought to be migrants in Dover, Kent, after small boat incidents in The Channel on Saturday
Border Force officers prepare to bring to shore men thought to be migrants in Dover, Kent, after small boat incidents in The Channel on Saturday. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

At least 244 migrants have managed to reach the UK this weekend after another boat made the perilous journey across the English Channel on Sunday.

Eight vessels including one with 51 people packed on board were stopped in the English Channel by the UK Border Force on Friday, with 145 migrants in total rescued, which is believed to be a new single-day record.

Just one day later 82 more migrants were encountered and brought to Dover, the Home Office has confirmed.

Pictures taken at the busy trade port on Saturday showed people wearing face masks being processed by Border Force officials.

Seventy of these were discovered onboard inflatable boats, while 12 men were found at Dungeness on the Kent coast.

On Sunday morning immigration officers were called to reports of another boat in the early hours when an official boat intercepted it 17 migrants were found aboard.

They too were taken to Dover, where they will be assessed for symptoms of coronavirus.

A man thought to be a migrant is processed by Border Force officers after being brought to shore in Dover, Kent
A man thought to be a migrant is processed by Border Force officers after being brought to shore in Dover, Kent. Picture: PA

The Home Office said attempted crossings are "reckless acts facilitated by criminals that we are determined to stop".

Since the Covid-19 lockdown was announced in Britain on March 23, at least 853 migrants have been intercepted by UK authorities and brought ashore.

Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said: "It's little wonder people living in France's refugee camps are desperate to make this dangerous crossing, given the awful conditions they face there.

"Coronavirus has made a bad situation life-threateningly worse. People are squeezed into tiny areas, they can't social distance, and the support they relied on for survival is drastically reduced.

"These people are fleeing terrifying situations in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. They aim for the UK because they want to be safe.

"Many have family or other connections, and others know our language and want to integrate and contribute. Now more than ever, we need to give them a safe and humane way to have their requests for asylum fairly heard, that's the way to end chaotic and dangerous channel crossings once and for all."

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