Published: Mon, December 31, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Migrants crossing the English Channel has become ‘major incident,’ U.K. says

Migrants crossing the English Channel has become ‘major incident,’ U.K. says

Six Iranian men with a small boat have been found on a beach in Kingsdown, near Deal in Kent, the Home Office has confirmed.

The men received medical checks and were turned over to immigration officials for processing, the Home Office said.

On Friday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared the matter a "major incident" prompting him to cut short a family holiday to deal with it.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Castaner said: "In touch with my British counterpart Sajid Javid".

Three migrants who were attempting to cross The English Channel from France to Britain are seen as they drift in an inflatable canoe off the French coast at Calais in August.

The "marketplace" has been favoured by groups of Iranians and Iraqis intent on organising their own Channel crossings, because they can club together and buy a boat at a much lower price than if they had to pay a smuggling gang.

"It is vital we strike a balance between protecting them and protecting our borders, ensuring we do not encourage more people to make this risky journey", he added.

At least 46 migrants crossed the channel into the United Kingdom over Christmas, according to reports.

The Home Secretary's handling of the issue was described as "Dad's Army" by one critic, the Mail on Sunday says, while one MP called for boats to be seized.

The spike over the Christmas period is "deeply concerning", the UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said.

The head of the National Crime Agency-led Project Invigor organised immigration crime task force Chris Hogben warned more crossings were "likely" in the coming weeks.

"While the Tories wax lyrical about control of our borders and being tough on security, they can not seem to get a grip on criminal smugglers operating on a few hundred miles of coastline, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world". "Ultimately the buck stops with the Home Secretary".

Ms Nokes said the number of patrol boats was being "constantly reviewed", but it was "feasible that were we to put additional craft they might act as a magnet - encouraging people to make a perilous crossing".

He has appointed a commander to oversee the response to the incidents and asked for daily updates.

"We are being told that those touting for these crossings are absolutely open about it", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Zooming in on a small "Sturgeon" boat, available for €2,400 in a nearby town he said: "It even comes with life jackets".

"We realised they were safe and sound, and the police took over", he said.

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