Border Force catches migrants 'in small boats' off Kent coast

Still they come: Boats loaded with migrants risk their lives to cross the English Channel despite UK being gripped by coronavirus crisis

  • Officers met a ‘number of small vessels’ in the Channel and took them to Dover
  • Pictures show about four people in a dingy – with officers – wearing life jackets
  • Charity warned thousands of migrants living on French coast at risk of Covid-19
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Border Force has intercepted boats loaded with migrants off the coast of Kent despite Britain being gripped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Officers met a ‘number of small vessels’ in the Channel this morning and took the passengers to the Port of Dover.

Pictures show about four people in a dingy wearing life jackets, before they are lined up on a jetty and wrapped in orange jackets.

The UK Border Force has intercepted a group of migrants off the coast of Kent (pictured this morning)

Officers met a ‘number of small vessels’ in the Channel this morning and took the passengers to the Port of Dover (pictured)

It comes as a charity warned thousands of migrants living in desperate conditions on the French coastline are at high risk from coronavirus.

Up to 1,000 refugees are living in Calais alone, with many seeking to try the dangerous crossing despite repeated safety warnings.

Border Force has been dealing with ‘a number of ongoing small boat incidents’ off the coast of Kent, the Home Office said.

Pictures show about four people in a dingy wearing life jackets, before they are lined up on a jetty and wrapped in orange jackets (pictured)

A number of suspected migrants were taken ashore in 6C temperatures at Dover and met by officials in yellow vests

A number of suspected migrants were taken ashore in 6C temperatures at Dover and met by officials in yellow vests.

It is understood the Border Force cutter Seeker has also been active off the UK coast.

The continued crossings – usually in unsafe inflatable dinghies – come despite the treacherous waters of the English Channel and the escalating Covid-19 outbreak.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said there are no known cases of Covid-19 at the makeshift camps on the northern coast of France, but it is only a matter of time.

She said: ‘They can’t have showers. They can’t wash their hands. They can’t self-isolate. So all the things we are being told to do, they can’t do.

Charity Care4Calais warned thousands of migrants living in desperate conditions on the French coastline (pictured, Calais) are at high risk from coronavirus

This picture shows care packages and donations delivered to migrant camps in the French city run by charity Care4Calais

‘They are often sleep-deprived so that puts your health at a low ebb already.’

Fears over Covid-19 have led to a sharp drop in volunteers for the charity, with just three on shift on Tuesday, compared with usual levels of up to 30.

Between 700 and 1,000 migrants are living across three sites in Calais where the charity helps, with 3,000 believed to be living across the whole of the northern French coastline.

A lockdown in France could mean the warehouse Care4Calais uses to store food and aid supplies is shut down.

The charity is in urgent meetings with lawyers to try to find a resolution.


A lockdown in France could mean the warehouse Care4Calais uses to store food and aid supplies is shut down. Left: Care4Calais workers putting together care packages delivered to migrant camps in Calais. Right: A soap station at a migrant camp in the French city

Asked about the risk of coronavirus in migrant camps, Ms Moseley said: ‘We are not aware of any cases currently but it can’t be much longer, can it?

‘They have been through so much they are scared of everything and now this is another thing.

‘They do not understand why the world doesn’t care about them.’

She called for people to donate money so the charity can continue to source vital aid supplies like hand sanitiser, many of which will cost more as they will increasingly need to be bought from supermarkets rather than wholesalers.

For more information, and to donate, visit care4calais.org/

The latest migrant activity comes after 16 men were intercepted by French authorities five nautical miles off Dunkirk.

The men, one of whom had severe hypothermia, were taken to Calais.

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