Young children are among 150 migrants arriving in Dover

Just in time for Christmas: Young children and a baby girl are among 150 migrants arriving in Dover minutes before midnight after crossing the channel in heavy rain

  • Group of people were brought to safety after being rescued from a small dinghy
  • Border Force officials were assisted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • A woman and baby among those rescued before being transferred to officials
  • Channel crossings this year have hit a record high of more than 28,000

Migrants including young children and a baby arrived in the UK just minutes before Christmas Day as 150 people attempted to cross the Channel overnight.

In pictures taken at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve, a group of 35 people were seen being brought to safety by Border Force officials, at Dover, Kent, having been rescued from a small dinghy.

There were two other rescues overnight bringing the total number of migrants arriving in the UK to 150. 

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said Border Force intercepted ‘a number of boats containing migrants’ attempting to cross the Channel overnight. 

A young baby girl was among the 150 people who arrived in Dover, Kent, at about midnight.

A second child was also one of 35 people on board a dinghy assisted by Border Force between the Dunkirk and Calais Ferries, shortly before 12am. 

A record-breaking number of migrants have crossed the Channel this year, including more than a hundred in the past week. 

A baby was among a group of migrants rescued in the Channel and brought to Dover at about 11.30pm on Christmas Eve

Border Force officials are being assisted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency after being called to an incident in the Channel before 8.20pm on Christmas Eve

All of those involved in the overnight rescues underwent a medical assessment and the adults have been transferred to immigration officials to be interviewed.

The children will come under the care of social services, officials said.

In another incident in French waters, nine migrants were rescued and are now in the UK after the engine of the vessel they were travelling in failed.

They have been transferred to the Coastguard to be assessed.

Alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Border Force officials were called to an incident in the Channel before 8.20pm on Christmas Eve. 

The latest rescues come after the total number of Channel crossings rose to a record breaking 28,020 – more than three times the 8,500 who made the crossing in 2020, according to Home Office figures. 

On Wednesday, at least 100 migrants, including children wrapped in blankets and snow boots, were intercepted attempting to cross the Channel despite temperatures plunging below freezing overnight.

Last night, a Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning, and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents.

‘The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.

‘We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk.’

Small boat crossings had briefly stopped due to high winds and strong tides in recent weeks, but have since restarted due to calmer waters in the Channel.

A total of 27 people, including seven women and a seven-year-old girl, are thought to have died when their boat sank during an attempted crossing. 

What happens to migrants after they arrive in the UK? 

Migrants who have been picked up after landing or intercepted at sea are taken to a Border Force processing centre, usually near Dover 

Here arrivals are triaged to identify any medical needs or vulnerabilities, fed and checked to see if they have a criminal record. Adults have an initial interview before being sent to accommodation centre across Britain, paid for by UK taxpayers and provided by private contractors.

The migrants are given £37.75 per week for essentials like food, clothes and toiletries while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. Kent County Council normally takes unaccompanied children into its care, although other local authorities are also involved in this programme.

Other migrants might be kept in a detention centre ahead of a plan to send them back to Europe. However, just five were deported last year as ministers admitted to ‘difficulties’.  

Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: ‘Last month’s tragedy is a devastating reminder of the dangers of Channel crossings and we are determined to work with our European and international partners to target the ruthless organised criminal gangs behind them.

‘Unbelievably, these gangs continue their deadly trade with more crossings taking place today, shamelessly putting lives at risk.

‘People planning to make the journey should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach instead of risking their lives by crossing the Channel from a safe EU country.

‘The Government’s New Plan for Immigration will be firm on those coming here via illegal routes and fair for those using safe and legal routes. This will reduce the pull factors in the current asylum and immigration system.’  

Last month, Priti Patel also vowed to stop ‘100 per cent’ of migrant crossings after online crisis talks with her French counterparts. 

A joint statement released by the Home Office also said they also discussed the mounting migrant crisis in eastern Europe which Britain accused Belarus and Russia of engineering to undermine European unity.

Miss Patel and Mr Darmanin said: ‘Tonight, the Home Secretary spoke to her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin to discuss the problem of small boats crossing the Channel and the operational response to it.

‘Both the Home Secretary and Interior Minister agreed to strengthen operational cooperation further. More must be done to stop the dangerous crossings. They agreed to accelerate the delivery of the commitments made in the joint agreement of July 2021 to deliver on their joint determination to prevent 100 per cent of crossings and make this deadly route unviable.’ 

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