Dozens of people land on Kent beach after crossing Channel in dinghy

Migrant Channel crossing incidents (PA Wire)
17:39pm, Mon 19 Jul 2021
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Around 50 people landed on a beach in Kent on Monday after crossing the English Channel in a single dinghy.

Dozens of people, including women and young children, were seen arriving at Dungeness.

Some raised their hands in celebration as they stood on the beach, while others sat down on the shingle shoreline amid 24C sunshine.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents (PA Wire)

The large dinghy is believed to have left northern France or Belgium earlier on Monday before crossing the dangerous 21-mile Dover Strait.

It came after 241 people arrived in the UK on Sunday on board eight boats, as 2021 continues to see rising numbers of crossings.

Border Force and Kent Police were at the scene as they awaited the arrivals on Monday afternoon.

The black dinghy came ashore on Dungeness Beach, around 30 miles along the coast from the port of Dover.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents (PA Wire)

The vessel had been watched by the RNLI as it got closer and closer to the coast before eventually landing on the beach at around 1pm.

Some people raised their hands in the air in apparent celebration at having completed the dangerous journey, while others had to be supported as they walked on to the beach.

Among the arrivals were women and children, some too young to walk.

More people are believed to have attempted the cross to the UK on Monday, with Border Force and French warships active in the English Channel.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents (PA Wire)

More than 1,850 people have succeeded in reaching Britain on board small boats in July so far, according to data analysis by the PA news agency, more than the total for the whole of 2019.

The Home Office has yet to confirm how many people have successfully crossed to the UK on Monday.

It comes as plans for sweeping reforms of the asylum system, dubbed the anti-refugee Bill by critics and campaigners, are due to be debated again in Parliament.

Ministers have been accused of trying to criminalise refugees under the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, but the Home Office insists the changes would “prioritise those most in need of protection”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who previously vowed to make Channel crossings “unviable”, insisted the proposed new laws are part of her plan for a “fair but firm” immigration system.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents (PA Wire)

On Tuesday she is expected to announce further measures, so refugees resettled in the UK will be granted indefinite leave to remain on arrival in the UK from October.

A coalition of campaigners called Together with Refugees has reiterated accusations that the Bill is inhumane and unworkable.

Research carried out by the Refugee Council estimates that some of the proposals – which would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission and could see people jailed for up to four years – could cost the taxpayer £412million a year.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said: “How fitting that on the day Priti Patel tries to criminalise those who seek sanctuary here and anyone who helps them, 50 people arrive safely under the watchful eye of the RNLI.

“The Home Office’s anti-refugee Bill is political theatre that doesn’t even pretend to deal with the issue or make our system, safe, fair or efficient.

“We need a mechanism allowing refugees arriving at the UK border in France to be given safe passage, and until we have it, all else is noise and distraction.”

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