Children among 18 migrants found crammed on small boat off Kent coast

Children among 18 migrants found crammed on small boat off Kent coast

Children are among 18 Iraqi and Iranian migrants found crammed onto a small inflatable boat after it was intercepted off the Kent coast

  • Their rigid-hulled inflatable boat was intercepted by Border Force today 
  • Latest example of migrants perilously crossing Channel in a bid for asylum
  • Have been interviewed by officials in Dover where they were taken ashore

A group of 18 migrants – including children – crammed on a small inflatable boat have been picked up off the Kent coast today.

Their rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) was intercepted by a Border Force cutter and the migrants were taken to shore at Dover.

The group, made up of men, women and children, said they were either Iraqi or Iranian.

They have been taken in for interview by immigration officials after being medically assessed.

Border Force officials intercepted four dinghies carrying men, women and children on May 20 as they made the journey from northern France to the Kent coast. If classed as asylum seekers, they will be released to specialist accommodation or allowed to live with family

It is the latest example of desperate migrants making the perilous trip across the Channel in a bid for asylum.

Since the beginning of the year over 30 people have been returned to Europe after arriving illegally in the UK in small boats – enforcing the Home Office’s ‘established principle’ that migrants should claim asylum in the ‘first safe country they reach’.

Today’s incident happened at 8.15am, and a Border Force patrol vessel was also called out.

In the beginning of April, 21 migrants – including a one-year-old baby – tried to get over from Calais in two separate boats (one pictured)

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘At around 8.15am today, Border Force was alerted to a small boat travelling across the Channel towards the UK coast.

‘A Border Force cutter and a coastal patrol vessel were deployed and intercepted the RHIB.

‘Those on board were transferred to the cutter.

‘A group of 18 people, made up of men, women and children, were brought to

Another group of Iranian migrants were spotted by the Maritime Gendarmerie earlier this month on May 19.  Pictured: Border Force boats patrol Dover Harbour in December

Dover, where they were medically assessed and believed to be well, before being transferred to immigration officials for interview.

‘The individuals presented themselves as Iraqi and Iranian.’

Across last weekend, a total of 52 migrants tried to get into the country.

Dozens were taken in to either Dover or Folkestone, with two people – one man and one woman – being found unconscious in separate incidents.

A further group of nine were intercepted on French waters and taken back by authorities in northern France. They were found to be suffering from mild hypothermia.

A Border Force vessel arrives at Dover Marina, following a small boat incident in the English Channel

The migrant crisis skyrocketed last November, with hundreds risking their lives to make it from France to Britain.

They pay thousands of pounds per head to traffickers who send them in boats from France across the Dover Strait – the busiest shipping lane in the world.

It sparked Home Secretary Sajid Javid into declaring a ‘major incident’ at the end of December 2018, and he hauled in extra Border Force cutters in a bid to stem the crisis.

A Home Office spokesman 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.

‘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 30 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.’

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