Lifeboat crew leaves Dover to rescue boat of migrants

A lifeboat crew today rescued a boat carrying nine illegal immigrants across the English Channel as the migrant crossing crisis continues.

The lifeboat was launched off the coast of Dover this afternoon after the Border Force cutter went out because the migrants are said to not want to be picked up.

It is the fourth day in a row that migrants have arrived by boat off the coast and takes the total number who have attempted to cross the Channel since Sunday to 44.

An RNLI Lifeboat and Border Force cutter today rescued the boat of migrants off Dover in Kent

An RNLI Lifeboat and Border Force cutter today rescued the boat of migrants off Dover in Kent

An RNLI Lifeboat and Border Force cutter today rescued the boat of migrants off Dover in Kent

Yesterday, 13 migrants from Iran and Iraq – including a baby and two children – were the latest to be found trying to cross. They were brought ashore around 5am.  

One day earlier, a group of 15 Iranian men were found on two small boats off the Kent coast on Monday. Four of them were arrested on suspicion of people smuggling. 

On Sunday a family of seven, including a mother, father and five children, was found near Kingsdown and given to immigration officials after an empty dinghy was seen. 

Retired coastguard Andy Roberts said today: ‘It’s absolutely perfect weather for them at the moment. It’s so nice. It’s not windy and it’s totally clear.

The operation off Dover today comes hours after further migrants were brought ashore

The operation off Dover today comes hours after further migrants were brought ashore

The operation off Dover today comes hours after further migrants were brought ashore

‘The sea is like a duck pond. This is going to carry on and on. There will be lots more to come. The weather is so great for them. It’s a perfect time for them.

‘They’ll know it’s lovely and clear so the risk is nowhere near as big as before when they were arriving in the winter.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Border Force is currently dealing with an ongoing small boat incident in the Channel.’

Yesterday, Kent Police told MPs that migrants crossing the Channel are so confident they won’t be sent back to Europe they are dialling 999 to get police to rescue them.

The lifeboat was launched after the Border Force cutter went out (pictured today) because the migrants are said to not want to be picked up

The lifeboat was launched after the Border Force cutter went out (pictured today) because the migrants are said to not want to be picked up

The lifeboat was launched after the Border Force cutter went out (pictured today) because the migrants are said to not want to be picked up

The force’s chief constable Alan Pughsley said: ‘They want to be found and helped. On some occasions, they are phoning 999 and asking for our help.’

Steve Rodhouse, director-general at the National Crime Agency, confirmed that the ‘business model’ for smugglers had changed.

He said: ‘People are happy to be, and are seeking, being caught and engaging with UK authorities because, rightly or wrongly, they don’t fear being returned.’

Home Secretary Sajid Javid last month sparked debate by questioning if those crossing were genuine asylum seekers.

Iranians are bought ashore at Dover Marina on Monday as the Channel migrant crisis continues

Iranians are bought ashore at Dover Marina on Monday as the Channel migrant crisis continues

Iranians are bought ashore at Dover Marina on Monday as the Channel migrant crisis continues

In December, he declared a ‘major incident’, ordering two Border Force boats to be redeployed to the Channel after a rise in crossings at Christmas. 

In 2018, more than 500 migrants tried to travel to the UK on small vessels, with four in five of them attempting the journey in the final three months of the year.

Around 250 people attempted the crossing in December alone. That figure dropped to around 90 in January.

But Mr Rodhouse said the current fine weather had led to an increase in crossings, adding migrants were paying about £5,000 each to do so.

Migrants are bought ashore at Dover Marina following the crossing of the Channel on Monday

Migrants are bought ashore at Dover Marina following the crossing of the Channel on Monday

Migrants are bought ashore at Dover Marina following the crossing of the Channel on Monday

The Home Office said: ‘Those found to have no right to be in the UK should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them.

‘Since January, over ten people who entered the UK illegally on small boats have been returned to Europe.’

Yesterday the 13 migrants found in the Channel were brought back to Dover and were transferred to immigration officials for interview.

Border Force was alerted by French authorities to the attempted migrant crossing at around 3am. They were given medical checks and ‘found to be well’.

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