Border Force intercepts inflatable dinghy carrying 20 migrants off coast of Dover
A Border Force patrol boat has met an inflatable dinghy carrying around 20 Syrian migrants off the coast of Dover.
Those on board were seen waving and smiling as the vessel made its way across the English Channel on Monday morning.
The migrants were met by the patrol boat Hunter shortly after 7am with the White Cliffs in sight.
It comes as a government minister told Sky News that the “unacceptable situation” of migrant crossings in the English Channel “absolutely needs to stop”.
So far this year, more than 4,000 migrants have reached the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats.
More than 677 people made it to the UK in crossings between Thursday and Sunday.
Speaking to Kay Burley @ Breakfast, care minister Helen Whately said: “We do have an unacceptable situation of many migrants coming across the Channel at the moment.
“It’s also a dangerous route, there’s real risk to life for those coming across, it’s obviously a form of illegal immigration, it’s not the right way to come to the United Kingdom.
“So, we are taking action.”
Ms Whately added: “The important thing is we work together with the French to stop this flow of migrants.
“It’s not a safe way for them to try and get here, it’s incredibly dangerous, it also means money is going to people smugglers, so it absolutely needs to stop.”
The government has made an official request to the Royal Navy for help, while a former Royal Marine has been appointed “clandestine Channel threat commander”.
Immigration minister Chris Philp will head to Paris on Tuesday to hold talks with his French counterparts on the issue.
Speaking ahead of the trip, Mr Philp said the UK government wants to make the route across the Channel “completely unviable” so migrants “have no incentive to come to northern France or attempt the crossing in the first place”.
He added: “We intend to return as many migrants who have arrived as possible.
“There are returns flights planned in the coming days. And we will also continue to go after the heinous criminals and organised crime networks putting people’s lives at risk.”
Last year, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised that the crossings would have become an “infrequent phenomenon” by now.
She has since called the figures “appalling” and levelled blame at her counterparts on the continent as she revealed the UK and French governments were locked in a row over the interpretation of maritime law.
The Sunday Telegraph has reported that France wants £30m to cover the costs of increased policing to stop the migrants crossing into English waters.
It also claims ministers are looking into chartering spy planes and drones.
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