Channel migrants: UK Minister defends handling of 'crisis'


Border Force officials were called Sunday morning after the men were found on a beach in Kent with a rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

The "treacherous" journeys are being fuelled by instability in the Middle East, organised crime, changes in visa routes and tighter security at Calais, Mr Javid explained.

But Mr Javid faced accusations of over-egging the scale of the problem, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott telling the Guardian: "There's no question that with Brexit, and also with the approach of the meaningful vote in January, people are being whipped up about migration issues, because the Government thinks this is the best way of frightening people to vote for their deal".

Six more Iranian men were found on a beach in Kent on Saturday after crossing the English Channel in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, meaning that 100 have either been picked up at sea or made it to the United Kingdom since Christmas Eve.

But he was it was "vital we strike a balance between protecting them and protecting our borders" after he was urged to deploy more Border Force Cutters.

The UK and France have agreed to take joint action to deal with the issue as Javid has come under growing pressure to act, with Labour accusing him of being "slow to respond" and Conservative MP Rehman Chishti telling him to "get a grip".

However, compared with the number of refugees seeking asylum in the United Kingdom every year, the number who have attempted to cross the channel by dinghy is tiny, says BBC political correspondent Ben Wright.

Sajid Javid said he will keep the number of Border Force vessels under close review, but the Defence Secretary has said that the military was ready to offer help if needed.

Britain's Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes talks to a Border Force officer in the harbour of Dover, England, to discuss recent attempts by migrants to reach Britain by small boats, Saturday Dec. 29, 2018.

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A Home Office spokesman said: "The group consisted of nine men, two women and 10-year-old child".

He has appointed a commander to oversee the response to the incidents and asked for daily updates.

She said: "We are being told that those touting for these crossings are absolutely open about it".

The Home Office has been contacted for a comment.

Mr Hogben said "significant resources" were being devoted to helping French authorities disrupt trafficking activities and dozens of crossing have been prevented, while "three suspected facilitators" had been arrested and charged.

At present one is in use, supported by two smaller patrol boats.

Since November, more than 220 people have attempted the journey.

"They are around and about in the camps, they are in the cafes in Calais".