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Dozens of migrants rescued from boats in the Channel near Dover, Home Office confirms

By Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Thirty-three migrants have been saved from the sea near Dover in just two days - while a further 10 have been located onshore.

At about 5am yesterday, Border Force was alerted to a small boat travelling across the Channel towards the UK.

Two boats were sent to intercept the inflatable vessel, and the 11 men on board were brought to Dover, where they were medically assessed before being transferred to immigration officials.

A Border Force cutter. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher
A Border Force cutter. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher

Later on Saturday, Border Force and Kent Police responded to reports of migrants spotted in Kingsdown.

The group of 10 people, who have identified themselves as Iranian, are believed to be well and have also been transferred to immigration officials for interview.

Yesterday's events come after two boatloads of migrants were brought to shore near Dover in the early hours of Friday.

At about 4am, Border Force was alerted to a rigid hull inflatable boat travelling towards St Margaret’s Bay. Four adults and two children were intercepted shortly afterwards near the beach, and the craft was seized by officers.

This abandoned dinghy was found on Friday morning at St Margaret's Bay
This abandoned dinghy was found on Friday morning at St Margaret's Bay

An hour later, a Border Force cutter intercepted a second boat spotted travelling towards Shakespeare Beach.

Sixteen people - including four children, five women and seven men of unknown nationalities - were brought to Dover, where they were medically assessed and found to be well.

They too have been transferred to immigration officials.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life and the lives of their children.

“Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas operations. We have agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

One boat was seen travelling towards Shakespeare Beach. Picture: Google Maps (13494500)
One boat was seen travelling towards Shakespeare Beach. Picture: Google Maps (13494500)

“It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, and since January more than 40 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.”

MP for Dover and Deal Charlie Elphicke has responded to Friday's events.

He said: "This brazen incident underlines just how lucrative the people smuggling trade across the English Channel has become.

“This is an expensive boat and outboard that has been dumped on the beach. Illegal entrants should not be able simply to motor up to shore at the foot of the White Cliffs and then disappear.

"The Dover frontline needs to be made secure. The French authorities and the Home Office must get a grip on this crisis."

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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