Crying toddler among arrivals after new yearly Channel crossings record set

Migrant Channel crossing incidents (PA Wire)
15:06pm, Wed 21 Jul 2021
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A toddler cried as they were brought ashore in Dover on Wednesday, part of a group of people believed to have just made the perilous journey across the English Channel.

The young child was carried up a gangway towards a white processing tent on the quayside, above where two dozen dinghies from previous crossings floated below.

At least five children were seen arriving aboard Border Force patrol boats, accompanied by men and women.

The latest migrant arrivals come after the number of people who have made the dangerous journey in small boats this year passed the total for all of 2020 on Tuesday, according to available official data compiled by the PA news agency.

More than 700 people succeeded in crossing the Channel on Monday and Tuesday, with many landing on Dungeness beach in Kent.

Border Force vessels and French warships have been active in the Dover Strait on Wednesday, with dozens of people brought into the port.

Elsewhere on the Kent coast, a dinghy believed to have been used in a Channel crossing could be seen beached on the shingle at Walmer.

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The partially deflated red boat was full of lifejackets as well as shoes and a rucksack.

Border Force and Kent Police were on the scene nearby, talking to beachgoers in an apparent effort to locate the boat arrivals.

Calm waters and low winds in the English Channel in recent days have seen a flurry of boats crossing to the UK, despite the dangers involved.

The Home Office has yet to confirm how many people and boats have made the journey on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced an agreement to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches, with the Government to give France £54 million.

Facing questions at the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Ms Patel defended the money pledge, saying the numbers of people attempting to cross from France had increased “considerably”.

POLITICS Migrants (PA Graphics)

However, an MP from her own party accused her of allowing the French to make “a mockery” of arrangements to return migrants to French territory after a French naval vessel reportedly tried to hand a number of migrants to a boat carrying journalists on Tuesday.

Ms Patel also told MPs she had signed removals agreements with India and Albania to return migrants “who have no legal right to be here”.

She would not confirm how many other negotiations were ongoing with other countries but said she was in “active discussions” with EU member states.

At least 8,452 people had crossed to the UK as of Tuesday evening, eclipsing the figure for the whole of 2020, when 8,417 people made the trip.

These figures are based on Home Office data obtained and analysed by PA.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, condemned the Government’s handling of the issue, saying it “loses all credibility” with the new record.

Dan O’Mahoney, clandestine channel threat commander for the Home Office, said on Tuesday that the Government “continues to take steps to tackle the unacceptable problem”.

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