Waves of Alleged Child Migrants Landing in Dover ‘Unsustainable’ Says Local Council Leader

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 01: Afghan refugee Rahman Sahah (L) , 32 and Mirwais Ahmadzai, 27, start their hunger strike outside the H.M. Government Home Office on August 1, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. Both men have been refused asylum in the UK and are currently tenants of social housing provider …
Christopher Furlong/Getty

The leader of Kent County Council, Roger Gough, said that the number of migrants claiming to be unaccompanied minors crossing the English Channel has reached “unsustainable” levels, adding that the county is being “overwhelmed” as illegal boat migration soars.

Councillor Gough said that the number of migrants landing in Kent were quickly heading to levels not seen since the 2015 migrant crisis, claiming that 180 alleged minors have been brought ashore at Kent since the beginning of the year — twice as much as were reported during the same time period last year.

“There is criminal activity clearly behind that. The problem emerging now at this end is that… we are a large local authority with a lot of experience in this area, but our capacity is being overwhelmed,” Gough said in comments reported by the Evening Standard.

“At the moment clearly not enough is happening to stop those journeys and more needs to be done because what we are seeing is arrivals on a scale which we in Kent certainly cannot cope with,” Gough said.

“Once the children arrive in Dover we need to have a clear response and that’s not happening,” he said going after the lack of action by the government.

Gough also noted that more young migrants are attempting to make the dangerous journey across the Channel as opposed to stowing away in lorries.

At the migrant camps in Calais, people-smugglers have reportedly lowered the fees they charge migrants to cross the Channel during the coronavirus crisis — down to £1,500 per person, compared to £3,000 last year.

The price cut has resulted in more migrants from poorer countries attempting to make the journey, particularly from African countries as opposed to the typical Iranian and Iraqi migrants. It has also resulted in more minors making the dangerous journey, with some fearing there could be an increased number being sold into sexual slavery.

“It’s a route that costs a lot of money. Somebody has paid for these children to be put at risk. It’s important to identify the individuals… and to ensure that [minors] are not being trafficked into a worse situation,” said Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union.

Since the United Kingdom introduced the coronavirus national lockdown in March, over 1,000 migrants have successfully reached British shores. Reports have suggested that people-smugglers are taking advantage of the recent warm weather and decreased numbers of shipping vessels in the Channel to send increased waves of migrants from France.

The number of genuine child migrants remains to be seen, however, as migrants have attempted to claim minor status in order to receive preferential treatment on arrival in the past.

In 2018, for example, the Home Office revealed that between 2010 and 2016 some 2,644 adults had lied about their age in order to improve their odds of being granted asylum — but just one-fifth of those caught lying about their age were deported from the country during the same time period.

In a stunning example of this, an apparently 38-year-old man claiming to a child refugee from the Calais jungle migrant camp was outed as an adult. Left-wing activists initially claimed, falsely, that he was a language interpreter when his picture emerged.

Another notable example of migrants attempting to deceive British immigration officials was the case of Haris Stanikzai, a migrant from Afghanistan, who claimed to be just 16-years-old.

It was later revealed that on a dating website Stanikzai listed his age as 22 and posted pictures of himself with a full beard.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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