Another 656 migrants cross Channel on Friday after French army rescue

Another 656 migrants crossed Channel to UK on Friday after French military rescued 65 shipwrecked when their boat failed to make the journey

  • Fifteen boats carrying a total of 656 migrants intercepted in Channel yesterday
  • That takes the yearly total to 32,321 – and is the 12th day this year with over 600
  • French authorities rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants from sunken boat on Friday
  • Since launch of Rwanda migrants plan, 27,053 people have made voyage to UK

A further 656 people made the perilous journey across the English Channel on small boats yesterday, the Government has confirmed.

Fifteen boats were processed by the Border Force on Friday alone, taking the annual total up to 32,321, according to the Ministry of Defence.

It was the 12th day this year that more than 600 people have crossed the Channel, days after the annual total exceeded 30,000.

Border Force officials survey makeshift detention centres for Channel migrants on Thursday

A UK Border Force vessel brings in a group of migrants who had taken a small boat for the trip

In 2021, 28,561 crossings were recorded. 

Special tents have been erected at Dover to keep the migrants covered while they are processed – with new arrivals appearing to be overflowing from existing facilities.

On Friday, French authorities launched a rescue operation after a boat off the coast of Gravelines, northern France got into difficulty.

A spokesperson from the French Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said the maritime military rescued 65 shipwrecked people from the boat.

Officials have set up tents to house migrant arrivals in Dover, with facilities now ‘overflowing’

It’s now estimated well over 30,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK in 2022

In a statement, the agency said: ‘After being taken care of, the castaways were disembarked at the port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer where they were taken care of by the border police and the departmental fire and rescue service.

‘The Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea warns anyone who plans to cross the Channel about the risks involved.

‘This maritime sector is one of the busiest areas in the world, with more than 400 merchant ships passing through it per day and the weather conditions are often difficult.

‘It is therefore a particularly dangerous sector, especially at a time when the water temperature will decrease.’

It is more than five months since then-home secretary Priti Patel announced plans to send migrants to Rwanda to try to deter people from crossing the Channel.

Since then, 27,053 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey.

On Wednesday more than 60 people were brought ashore by the Dungeness Lifeboat onto the beach near Lydd in Kent where they were met by immigration officials and taken on board buses to a processing centre.

Men, women and children were brought down on ladders from lifeboats onto the pebble shoreline while others were brought into the harbour at Dover.

A further 45 had to be rescued by French authorities after getting into difficulties off the Calais coast overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: ‘With these shocking record numbers of illegal crossings, getting the small boats crisis under control should be a key priority.

A large group of small boat passengers board a bus to be taken for processing at Dover

A heavily pregnant migrant woman is escorted off the beach by police in Kent last week

‘With the approach of Winter, the seas will get rougher and the weather colder- inevitably the risk of further loss of life will increase. That’s why urgent action is needed to stop these dangerous crossings.’

On April 14, Ms Patel signed what she described as a ‘world-first’ agreement with Rwanda, under which the East African country would receive migrants deemed by the UK to have arrived ‘illegally’ and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules.

However, the first deportation flight, due to take off on June 14, was grounded amid legal challenges.

Several asylum seekers, the Public and Commercial Services Union and charities Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid are embroiled in court cases with the Home Office as they challenge the policy.

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