40 Migrants Head to UK on Christmas Day Dash Across English Channel

French Marine Nationale

Forty migrants were picked up in the English Channel in five separate incidents on Christmas day, believed to be the highest number of illegals and boats intercepted in one day.

The first vessel was spotted at 2:40am local time after a boat containing eight migrants alighted in Folkestone, reports the BBC.

The second incident occurred at 4:30 am when 13 migrants were spotted in a boat by the British lifeboat service and a coastguard helicopter off the coast of Deal.

At 5:50 am, eight migrants in a dinghy were intercepted by UK Border Force cutter in British waters in the English Channel. French maritime authorities released images of the rescue operation captured from helicopter observation cameras.

By 9:20 am, two more in a rowing boat were picked up by a lifeboat eight nautical miles from Dover.

And for a reason not made clear, nine migrants whose engine failed in French territorial waters were brought to England and have been transferred to the British Coastguard to be assessed.

The majority are understood to be male, with at least one woman and two children found aboard the separate craft.

British authorities believe all the migrants are from Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

On Saturday, French authorities stopped 16 migrants off the coast of Boulogne after they had stolen a fishing boat, in a move similar to that taken by 12 migrants who reached Dover harbour in a stolen fishing vessel in November.

“The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel,” a Home Office spokesman said on Christmas day.

“We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk,” they added.

Since November, at least 150 migrants have made the dash to Britain, fearing it will be harder to enter illegally and claim asylum once the UK leaves the EU on March 29th, 2019.

On December 12th, 11 illegals were picked up off the coast of Dover and a few days later another ten were picked up by the French off of their coast.

In response, Britain has increased patrols by UK Border Force, though a government source warned that more patrols will mean more migrants attempting to cross the English Channel, the world’s busiest waterway.

“More ships means migrants crossing in dinghies will only have to reach British boats rather than make it all the way across the Channel,” the Whitehall source said in late November.

In the past two months, there has been a conspicuous number of migrants from Iran, with pro-migrant charities observing that Iranians are generally wealthier and therefore able to pay the up to £6,000 smuggling fee by boat.

In 2017, Serbia, a non-EU country which borders four EU states, relaxed its visa rules for Iranians in an effort to boost its tourism industry but closed the programme one year later following immigration abuses.

It was reported in Serb media that planes were arriving from Tehran to Belgrade full, but returning empty, the citizens of the Islamic Republic then fleeing to the nearest EU country to travel around the borders-free bloc to claim asylum.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.