103 migrants detained in one day after crossing Channel in freezing fog

More than 123 people have braved freezing conditions to cross The Channel this weekend, Border Force officials say.

The agency said six boats carrying 103 migrants were intercepted and brought into the harbour at Dover amid thick, freezing fog on Saturday. Women and children were among those desperately attempting the crossing. 

Another 29 or so people were stopped in three boats by the French authorities before they could reach UK waters, while two boats carrying 20 people were intercepted on Sunday, the Home Office confirmed.

Dangerous conditions and poor weather have made crossings more treacherous so far this year, though Border Force say they brought a boat carrying around 10 people to shore on January 2.

Today, pictures showed men wrapped in blankets wearing face masks and lifejackets in bitterly cold temperatures as they arrived at Dover Marina.

The Home Office told this afternoon that a separate incident was also ‘ongoing’.

Figures show that at least 8,400 migrants attempted the Channel crossing by small boat last year, compared to around 1,850 in 2019.

Reports in October suggested that almost 300 asylum seekers, including 36 children, had died trying to cross the Channel in the last 20 years.

A family of five and two other men are among those who drowned in October 2020 in one incident, when their boat capsized off Dunkirk.

The bodies of Kurdish-Iranian Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, were recovered.

But 15-month-old Artin’s body has still not been found, along with two other men who are also presumed to have died in the tragedy.

The Government said it would assess each person and return those with no right to remain.

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: ‘People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not risk their lives making a dangerous and illegally-facilitated crossing.

‘The Government has taken substantial steps to tackle this unacceptable problem of illegal migration. These efforts have contributed to a 70% reduction in crossings since September on fair-weather days, by direct intervention on the French beaches.

‘This means that we have been able to change the patterns of crossings that resulted in a surge of small boat activity 2018 and 2019.’

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