UK: 53 Illegal Boat Migrants Brought Ashore Despite Pandemic

DOVER, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: An inflatable rib lies in the surf near Samphire Hoe on April 4, 2019 in Dover, England. Two separate incidents of migrants coming ashore have been reported along the Kent coast near Folkestone this morning. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Dozens of illegal migrants reached Britain’s shores over the weekend after being brought to Dover by the Border Force after being intercepted in the English Channel, despite coronavirus outbreaks at migrant camps in France.

On Saturday, Border Force stopped four boats filled with 53 migrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, and Yemen — but, instead of escorting them back to France, simply brought them to Dover to undergo medical checks before being handed over to immigration officials.

The crossing comes just days after another group of 52 Iraqis, Iranians, and Afghans were brought ashore on Thursday.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed an illegal migrant camps in Calais and Dunkirk — common launchpads for people seeking to break into Britain. There are believed to be around 3,000 migrants living in close quarters in such camps in northern France.

The founder of charity Care4Calais, Clare Moseley, warned that there could be an impending “humanitarian disaster” if the situation in migrant camps is not dealt with.

“This is a huge concern because here they can’t put in place the mitigation strategies that people are using elsewhere in Europe,” she said, in comments reported by The Sun.

“They can’t use social distancing, they can’t self-isolate and they can’t wash their hands,” she added, while calling for the “French state to intervene”

In response to the crossings, the Home Office said that Home Secretary Priti Patel and the French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner have “reaffirmed their commitment to tackling this issue since the outbreak of coronavirus.”

However, in 2019 just fifteen per cent of illegal boat migrants were deported by the British government, despite promises from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to send migrants back to Europe.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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