Dozens of migrants including children arrive in Port of Dover after being picked up in the English Channel – as monthly total rises above 2,000


Dozens of migrants have been brought into the Port of Dover today after being intercepted trying to cross the English Channel in dinghies.

Border Force catamarans Volunteer and Defender brought scores of people ashore after picking up the inflatables in the 21-mile wide Dover Straits in the first arrivals since Thursday.

One group, all wearing red life jackets, were seen being escorted off the boat and walked along the gangway to the immigration processing centre at the former jetfoil terminal at the Western Docks around midday.

They included one child, aged around five, in a winter coat with their hood up to protect them from the cold. Another appeared to be in bright pink waterproof dungarees, while a third wore wellies and an open coat.

Conditions in the Channel were hazy but calm as the inflatable made the voyage before the weather was expected to deteriorate with heavy rain on its way.

Border Force catamarans Volunteer and Defender brought scores of people ashore after picking up the inflatables

Border Force catamarans Volunteer and Defender brought scores of people ashore after picking up the inflatables

The Border Force vessel's journey from the 21-mile wide Dover Straits marked the first arrivals since Thursday

The Border Force vessel’s journey from the 21-mile wide Dover Straits marked the first arrivals since Thursday

They included one child, aged around five, in a winter coat with their hood up to protect them from the cold

Meanwhile the Border Force vessel Ranger could be seen heading to an area  in the middle of the Channel – between Hastings and Le Touquet – at around 1.30pm, according to the Marine Traffic website.

The French patrol ship Minck was also positioned in the same area where the expanse of sea between the two coastlines is nearly 50 miles wide.

A total of 2,051 people have made the dangerous crossing to date in March in 43 boats, according to official figures.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We remain committed to building on the successes that saw arrivals drop by more than a third last year, including tougher legislation and agreements with international partners, in order to save lives and stop the boats.’ 

An average of 48 people have been in each boat in the highest monthly figure so far since the start of 2024.

Last Thursday, March 21, 263 more migrants were picked up in seven boats.

Wednesday, March 20 saw the busiest day so far this year, with 514 migrants reaching the UK in 10 inflatables, figures released by the Home Office showed.

The previous record for 2024 was on March 4 when 401 people arrived in Dover, Kent in seven small boats.

The latest figures bring the total for the year, as it stands, to 4,306 in 91 boats

One group, all wearing red life jackets, were seen being escorted off the boat and walked along the gangway to the immigration processing centre

One group, all wearing red life jackets, were seen being escorted off the boat and walked along the gangway to the immigration processing centre

Conditions in the Channel were hazy but calm as the inflatable made the voyage

Conditions in the Channel were hazy but calm as the inflatable made the voyage

In 2023 there were a total of 29,437 in 601 boats compared to 45,755 in 2022. 

When confronted by figures showing that the number of people arriving illegally in dinghies is higher than at the same time last year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told Sky News: ‘When we get flights off to Rwanda, that will send a very strong signal to smugglers and the people that if you come to the UK illegally then there is a very good chance you will be sent straight back abroad.’

The news comes as just 9 per cent of Britons are happy with how ministers are dealing with our borders, while 69 per cent say they are unhappy. 

According to the survey of 3,000 voters, carried out by pollsters Ipsos and the think-tank British Future, 54 per cent of those who said they were unhappy cited ‘not doing enough to stop Channel crossings’ while 51 per cent said ‘immigration numbers are too high’. 

More than half of all respondents now support reducing migration, up from 48 per cent in 2023. 

A breakdown by political party support makes bleak reading for the Conservatives just months before the election is expected, with the flagship policy to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda on hold and support for Reform UK rising.

Only 16 per cent of Tory supporters and 8 per cent of those who backed Boris Johnson in 2019 are happy with the current handling of immigration.

And 53 per cent said the issue would be important in deciding how they will vote, behind only the NHS and cost of living. Perhaps less surprisingly, just 10 per cent of Labour supporters have a positive view of the Government’s performance, with 72 per cent saying the opposite.

Meanwhile the Border Force vessel Ranger could be seen heading to an area in the middle of the Channel

Meanwhile the Border Force vessel Ranger could be seen heading to an area in the middle of the Channel

A total of 2,051 people have made the dangerous crossing to date in March in 43 boats, according to official figures

A total of 2,051 people have made the dangerous crossing to date in March in 43 boats, according to official figures

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was confronted by figures showing that the number of people arriving illegally in dinghies is higher than at the same time last year, with the latest figure put at 4,306

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was confronted by figures showing that the number of people arriving illegally in dinghies is higher than at the same time last year, with the latest figure put at 4,306

In a new attempt to deter migrants from trying to reach Britain, the Home Office launched an advert campaign in Vietnam yesterday, from where an increasing proportion of small boat arrivals are travelling. 

The video shared on social media features testimony of people who regret making the journey as well as setting out the risks of being exploited by smuggling gangs and having no access to public services in the UK.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: ‘This is a powerful campaign which demonstrates first-hand that life for people arriving here illegally is a far cry from the lies they have been sold by the gangs on the other side of the Channel.’

Earlier this month peers inflicted a series of heavy defeats on the Government’s Rwanda Bill as the House of Lords renewed an assault on Rishi Sunak’s flagship laws to ‘Stop the Boats’.

Ministers were resoundingly defeated on amendments to the marquee legislation in the unelected chamber, as peers set up a fresh battle with the House of Commons.

The Lords voted by majorities of more than 100 votes on a series of changes to the Bill, with the size of the defeats the biggest to have been suffered by Mr Sunak as PM.

Peers supported a move to ensure the controversial Bill is fully compliant with domestic and international law.

They also demanded that Parliament cannot declare Rwanda a safe country for housing asylum seekers until a new treaty with Kigali is fully implemented.

An average of 48 people have been in each boat in the highest monthly figure so far since the start of 2024

An average of 48 people have been in each boat in the highest monthly figure so far since the start of 2024

In 2023 there were a total of 29,437 in 601 boats compared to 45,755 in 2022

In 2023 there were a total of 29,437 in 601 boats compared to 45,755 in 2022

In a further change, the Lords voted in favour of establishing a monitoring mechanism able to determine whether the safeguards in the treaty have been, and continue to be, fully implemented.

The UK has been shelling out £8million a day on housing migrants in hotels while soldiers are left in rotting barracks or shifted into shipping containers – with the Home Office this month seeking an emergency £2.6billion cash injection to plug a shortfall in its asylum seeker housing budget.

And ministers have been accused of shameful ‘double-standards’ after it was revealed British military families were being forced to live in squalid homes while migrants were placed in taxpayer-funded hotels.

Hundreds of armed forces families have been forced to endure months in crumbling, leaking properties riddled with mould, with some being left in sub-zero temperatures without heating and hot water during the winter.

So appalling is some of the military housing, it led to a serviceman’s two-year-old girl being rushed to hospital for urgent treatment this month after she fell ill while living in a mouldy property, despite the family raising the alarm with defence contractors.

And in the latest development in the scandal, an Army family was forced to leave their crumbling home after a wall in the bedroom of their military property caved in, with their complaints about it allegedly being ignored ‘for three years’.

Former Tory Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois raged: ‘We are operating double standards; some brave military personnel and their loved ones are constantly let down by hapless contractors, while illegal migrants are put up in hotels.



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