Eight migrants found in inflatable boat heading to Kent coast

25 May 2019, 10:45 | Updated: 25 May 2019, 15:44

Eight migrants have been found in a boat in the Channel heading towards the Kent coast and taken to immigration centres.

The Border Force was alerted to the small boat at around 6.20am and a cutter was deployed and intercepted the inflatable boat.

The men were taken to Dover, where they were medically assessed and found to be in good health before being transferred to immigration officials for interview.

Seven of the men are Iranian and one is from Afghanistan.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life.

"Since the home secretary declared a major incident in December, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas operations, we have agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

"It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 30 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to elsewhere in Europe."

Meanwhile, more than 200 migrants aboard two boats in distress in the Mediterranean have been rescued by Maltese authorities.

The boats containing 216 men, women and children were rescued on Friday night by the Armed Forces of Malta.

They will be examined by doctors and given the chance to seek asylum.

One of the women is reportedly pregnant.

An Armed Forces of Malta spokesman said a patrol boat had been deployed to a sinking rubber dinghy south of the island.

After picking up the migrants, it was diverted to a second dinghy while on its way to Malta, picking up those migrants as well.

Officials say good weather had prompted at least 12 boats to cross the Mediterranean in the past two days.

They came from Libya, Tunisia and Algeria and were headed to Sicily, Sardinia and the small island of Lampedusa, which is closer to Africa than to mainland Italy.

A further 390 people have arrived this year in Malta, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The organisation says 1,445 migrants arrived in Malta last year.

People make the dangerous journeys to Europe in hope for a better life, often fleeing war and poverty.