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Dover: 40 migrants cross Channel on Christmas Day

ByCharlie Harman

Five boats containing suspected migrants have been stopped today, with the Home Office blaming "organised criminal gang activity" for the Christmas spree.

In total 40 migrants have crossed The Channel today, sparking focussed efforts from English and French authorities.

At 2.40am Border Force received their first call-out when eight migrants arrived in Folkestone.

Migrants being rescued in the English Channel. Picture: ITV (5753507)
Migrants being rescued in the English Channel. Picture: ITV (5753507)

The group, consisting of seven Iranian male nationals and one Afghan female minor, received medical treatment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.

The minor will be transferred to the care of social services.

The second incident was reported by Cherbourg MOC at around 5.50am, and saw seven men and a woman picked up from a dinghy in the middle of The Channel.

Later, at about 6.50am, a Border Force cutter and a Coast Patrol Vessel (CPV) lifeboat were deployed to assist 13 migrants on a dinghy off the coast of Deal.

The maritime effort halted 12 adult males and one minor, with 11 of the group presenting themselves as Iraqi nationals and two identifying themselves as Iranian.

They all received medical supervision and will be interviewed by immigration officials.

Migrants were found off the Kent coast. Picture: Abeille Languedoc (5684361)
Migrants were found off the Kent coast. Picture: Abeille Languedoc (5684361)

The minor will be transferred to the care of social services.

Nine migrants had to be rescued after their dinghy's engine failed, and they are currently being assessed at the Coastguard tent.

One incident, involving two people in a small rowing boat, is being handled currently by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Border Force.

A Home Office spokesperson 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."

KentOnline earlier reported that at least 125 migrants have already made the dangerous crossing so far this month.

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