Baby strapped to woman among migrants making crossing as weather improves

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
19:06pm, Mon 06 Sep 2021
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A baby and several young children were among a large group of migrants brought ashore on Monday after trying to cross the English Channel.

A packed lifeboat was pictured arriving on a beach in Dungeness in Kent.

While officials led passengers away, one woman was seen clutching a small baby who was strapped to her.

Images show other young boys and girls being carried or escorted to safety among several men and women.

Several young children were among those rescued on Monday (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Eyewitnesses described authorities including Border Force, and the RNLI, as appearing to be very busy as a steady stream of crossings was thought to be under way amid calm waters and sunny skies.

Sunday saw the first small boat crossings for more than two weeks due to bad weather.

Some 158 people, including five children, arrived on Dover from four boats.

Those arrivals brought the total number of people who have crossed to the UK aboard small boats this year to more than 12,500, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

Crossings in 2021 have already eclipsed last year’s annual total of 8,417 and that tally continues to rise on fair weather days.

Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said an “unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe.”

He said: “We’re determined to target the criminals at every level. So far, we have secured nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 10,000 migrant attempts.”

In Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Home Secretary Priti Patel is “working around the clock” to ensure France impedes the passage of migrants across the Channel.

Crossings resumed after the weather improved (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Answering a question from Conservative MP Jacob Young, Mr Johnson said: “My honourable friend is completely right and, of course, the issue is that very sadly I think our friends across the Channel in France are faced with a very difficult problem.

“A large number of people want to come to this country, and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do the necessary and impede their passage.

“But I know the Home Secretary is working right around the clock to ensure that we not only encourage the French to stiffen their sinuses and stop people making the journey, but we use every possible tactic available to us as well.”

Earlier this year the RNLI saw a large spike in donations after the charity’s chief executive defended its role in rescuing people crossing the English Channel, describing it as “humanitarian work”.

It came after the charity said it had faced heightened criticism for rescuing migrants, with one crew having to call the police after being subjected to abuse.

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