Border Force saves six ‘extremely cold migrants’ in dinghy off Dover

UK Border Force saves six ‘extremely cold migrants’ in dinghy off Dover after they phoned 999 for help – as total making dangerous Channel crossing bid hits 155 in six weeks

  • Six migrants were plucked from the English Channel early this morning off Kent 
  • The group, who claimed to be Iranian, were bought ashore by Border Force
  • Third boat this month and brings rescue total to 155 since start of November
  • Yesterday 14 migrants were picked up in two dinghies off the Dover coast 

Six suspected migrants have been picked up by Border Force officials this morning after they dialled 999 for help, bringing the total rescued in the last six weeks to 155.

They were travelling in a dinghy when they were found at 6.21am after calling Kent Police. They were picked up on the Dover Straight. 

The migrants were ‘extremely cold’ according to one source, but it is believed the sea conditions were calm overnight. The group told rescuers they were Iranian.

They were checked over by paramedics at the harbour before being handed over to Immigration officials for interview.

The suspected migrants were travelling across the Channel in this dinghy when they were rescued off the Kent coast after calling 999 this morning 

The coast guard picked up six more suspected migrants off the Dover coast (pictured, emergency services at the scene today) this morning, which brings the total number of people rescued this month to 155  

A Kent Police spokeswoman said: ‘We received a call regarding suspected migrants in a boat off the coast of Dover at 6.21am.’

The force referred the job to the Coastguard, who assisted Border Force colleagues.

It comes after 14 migrants – who also all claimed to be Iranian – were picked up in two dinghies off the Dover coast yesterday

The incidents follow a surge in the number of people making the perilous trip across from France, with more than 120 migrants being brought in since November 3. 

So far 155 migrants have been plucked from the English Channel trying to reach Britain since the start of last month.

Coastguard and a lifeboat crew were called at about 3.30am to the vessel six miles of the Kent coast in the Dover Strait traffic lane.

The group of five men and one woman, and who claimed to be from Iran, were brought ashore on Tuesday morning.

It was the second boat stopped by the authorities this month, as on December 4, two migrants were rescued after their small vessel was spotted off the Kent coast near St Margaret’s Bay. 

This group of five men and one woman, and who claimed to be from Iran , were brought ashore by Border Force yesterdat. One was spotted being welcomed on to a jetty wrapped in a blanket

Pictures captured the moment the migrants were brought onto dry land yesterday. It was the second boat stopped by the authorities this month, and brings the total number of migrants rescued from the Channel to 149 in nearly six weeks

The Home Office said: ‘Border Force was contacted by the coastguard at around 3am on Tuesday 11 December. 

‘A Border Force cutter and a lifeboat were deployed to assist a dinghy off the coast of Dover with six people on board.

‘The group consisted of five men and one women. All have presented themselves as Iranian nationals.

‘They received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.’

The Home Office said a Border Force cutter and a lifeboat were deployed to assist a dinghy (pictured) off the coast of Dover with six people on board

Most of those held by police crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane from France since November have claimed to be Iranian.

On November 27 TV cameras captured the dramatic moment migrants were told ‘help is coming’ as Border Force officials and the coastguard rescued two crews of nine, including a three-year-old.

The girl was clinging to her mother as one of four children in the dinghy bobbing about ‘helplessly’ in the ocean swell after travelling 15 miles from Calais.

They crossed over into the English side of the Channel before making a 999 call at about 4.30am.

A group of nine Iranians, including four children, in a three-metre inflatable dinghy when they were found in the English Channel on November 27

A three-year-old girl and three other children were among the group rescued from a dinghy in the Channel in the early hours of November 27

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Minutes later a second crew of nine were rescued, meaning that 141 attempted the perilous journey in November alone.

The French Maritime Prefecture said that its vessels intercepted nine migrants before dawn Tuesday and took them to the port of Dunkirk.

A statement said that minutes later a second alert went out for a boat in trouble, carrying nine migrants, off the coast of Dover. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution recovered them. 

Coastguard crew bring the inflatable alongside their boat in the English Channel in a rescue filmed by TV cameras

The three-year-old girl’s crew were found by Good Morning Britain reporter Jonathan Swain. Footage shows him at the scene as he tells the stranded migrants that help is coming. 

‘We were on the water out in the channel since midnight,’ he said. ‘We had reports of there being a distress and may day out there. We raced towards them we could see them flashing a torch light.

‘When we got there it was just an incredible sight it really took my breath away … to see people floating in the ocean in a dinghy made for three people in a river.’

He said it was particularly painful to see the three-year-old girl being held by her mother in the vessel.  

This dinghy – which is designed to carry just three people – had nine crammed into it in one of the rescues on November 27

Some of the men were captured walking onto the shore following the dramatic rescue in the Channel on November 27

It emerged last month that people smugglers are charging migrants up to £13,000 each to cross the Channel by inflatable dinghy. 

Is Serbia to blame for the migrant surge? 

An immigration policy introduced  1,200 miles away in Belgrade has been blamed for the spike in migrants trying to cross the English Channel.

The scheme, which granted Iranian passport-holders visa-free travel to Serbia, was supposed to boost tourism between the two nations and attract business investments.

It was also said to be a reward for Iran’s refusal to recognise the Republic of Kosovo, Serbia’s former province, as an independent country.

But the gesture has resulted in an unprecedented number of Iranians claiming asylum in Serbia – or using the country as a gateway into western Europe. 

The Iran-Serbia agreement came into force in August last year but was withdrawn last month after the EU raised concerns it was being abused.

By the time the scheme was rescinded on October 17, about 40,000 Iranians were said to have flown to Serbia. 

The most recent Home Office figures show the UK’s largest proportion of applications for asylum came from Iranians.

In the year to June, Britain received 27,044 asylum applications. This is 14 per cent on the previous year.

Miodrag Cakic, chief executive of Refugee Aid Serbia, which monitors migration through the Balkans, said: ‘I think the Serbian government’s intentions were good – to create more tourism in Belgrade – but it meant many Iranians came over and never returned home or dispersed to other nations.’

One family of would-be asylum seekers was charged £40,000 for the dangerous night-time sea crossing.

So-called ‘agents’ have already charged families to reach the French coast. Many fly from Iran to countries such as Serbia or Turkey, before being smuggled across borders to make overland journeys across Europe. 

People traffickers then demand a further fee to get them to British soil. Individuals pay as much as £13,300 a head (15,000 euros) to board rubber dinghies for the freezing night journey. 

Francois Guennoc, a volunteer for aid group L’Auberge des Migrants, told the Daily Mail that smugglers charge different fees depending on which country their clients were from.

‘Iranians are charged more than Afghans, for example, because they have more money generally,’ he said. 

MP’s have warned that lives will be lost without urgent action. 

Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover and Deal, added: ‘People are still willing to risk crossing the English Channel in the middle of the night in winter – even with such a young child on board.

‘The Home Office urgently need to set out a detailed plan on how they are going to put a stop to this crisis. 

‘The French cannot just turn a blind eye and say this is a problem for Britain. Lives will be lost if this trafficking network is not stopped in its tracks.’ 

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Nobody should put their life at risk attempting to smuggle themselves into the UK across the Channel.

‘We are working closely with the National Crime Agency to investigate recent incidents and are in regular contact with the French authorities as we work to identify and dismantle the organised crime groups that facilitate illegal immigration.’        

How many suspected migrants have been picked up in the Channel in this month alone?

Today’s rescue of eighteen people brings the total saved in the Channel this month to 141.

Here is a full list of this month’s rescues:  

November 3: Fifteen picked up in two separate dinghies (eight off Kent coast and seven near Dover Western Docks).

November 9: Seven in a dinghy rescued two miles off Dover who dialled 999 to be rescued in stormy waters.

November 13: Seventeen people including a woman and boy aged four found in a stolen French fishing boat which was intercepted as it came into the entrance of the marina at Dover.

November 14: Twenty-four found in one day. Nine on one RHIB, 10 crammed into a tiny fishing boat and five picked in a dinghy picked up by a tanker in the English Channel near Ramsgate and taken to Falmouth where the ship docked.

November 16: Seven found in a dinghy at Samphire Hoe near Folkestone.

November 18: Nine found on rocks at Folkestone after getting off a RHIB.

November 22: Thirteen men and one woman found in two separate dinghies off Kent coast.

November 23: Eight found in a RHIB off Dover.

November 24: Five suspected migrants picked up by French authorities off the country’s northern coast. 

November 25: Eight people suffering from hypothermia rescued by French authorities in the Channel. 

November 26: Nine people including an 18-month-old child, picked up from a three metre-long boat near Dover. 

November 27: Nine people including a three-year-old girl, who was one of four children aboard, rescued in the Channel. A second crew of nine people were also recovered minutes later.

December 4: Two Iranian nationals in an inflatable boat rescued off Kent coast near St Margaret’s Bay

December 11: Six suspected migrants rescued from small boat in the Dover shipping lane 

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