Nigel Farage accuses France of escorting migrant dinghies to British waters as border patrols say they are powerless to stop boats coming
- Nigel Farage claims there are nine migrants boats on English Channel today
- Yesterday witnessed group of migrants being escorted by a French vessel to UK
- The French vessel handed the migrants over to a UK coastguard vessel
- Tweeting after returning to Dover, Mr Farage described it as ‘an invasion’
Nigel Farage has accused France of assisting an ‘invasion’ of migrants across the Channel after its border patrol ships were filmed escorting dinghies into UK waters.
The Brexit Party leader, 56, claimed today would be ‘another record day’ for crossings with nine migrant boats already reported to be on the Channel.
A record 531 migrants have made it to British shores this month, with 64 migrants on just five boats arriving on Wednesday.
Border patrols claim that they are ‘powerless’ to stop boats because migrants have threatened to throw themselves or their children overboard if they are forced to turn back.
Nigel Farage has accused France of assisting an ‘invasion’ of migrants across the Channel, as he predict today would be ‘another record day’ for crossings
Filming from a Chartered fishing vessel yesterday, Mr Farage said he spotted a French naval ship ‘escorting’ migrants into UK waters before turning around
Mr Farage yesterday took to the Channel in a chartered fishing boat and ‘rescued’ more than 20 migrants crammed in two tiny dinghies who were seen desperately trying to bail out water.
His vessel contacted the Coastguard, who dispatched RNLI rescue vessels to the scene to save the people on the packed dinghy.
In footage posted to his twitter, the former MEP claims to spot a French naval vessel ‘escorting’ migrant boats into UK waters, before the ship turns around.
Speaking after his return to Dover, Mr Farage said: ‘An astonishing morning mid-Channel. A hugely overloaded boat was bailing out water as we approached with 20 migrants on board.
The Brexit Party leader was pictured on board a fishing charter vessel in the English Channel yesterday where he witnessed a group of 25 migrants attempting to make their way to Britain
‘It is just outrageous after all the money we have sent to France to deal with this problem that the French Navy now escort illegal migrants into UK waters.’
Mr Farage was previously criticised for being photographed on a factfinding trip to Dover while strict coronavirus lockdown rules were still in place.
The total number of migrants who have crossed the Channel this year stands at 1,520, closing in on the 1,890 who made it during the whole of 2019.
Of that tally, 1,149 have reached the UK since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown in March.
The migrants were picked up by an RNLI lifeboat after their small-overcrowded inflatable began to take on water
The migrants were bailing out their boat as it made its way across the English Channel today
When migrant boats are intercepted in the Channel by Border Force, the majority will be taken to the Port of Dover.
The Home Office say that when migrants are stopped in the Channel and brought into the UK they are first assessed to see if they have any medical need. They will then likely be held at the Kent Intake Unit.
There they can make an asylum claim and participate in an initial interview before they are released.
To be eligible for asylum, the person must have left their country and be unable to go back because of fear of persecution.
While awaiting a decision, asylum seekers are given £37.75 a week for essentials.
Those who are likely to be eligible are moved into asylum accommodation, while those who are not, or are deemed a security risk, are moved to a detention centre, where immigration officers explore grounds for removing them from the UK.
Unaccompanied children will typically be taken into care of Kent County Council.
The 531 who have made it to Britain so far this month have eclipsed April’s record figure of 523 – with still more than a week left to go.
On May 8, 145 migrants made it in eight boats – a record for a single day.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has made repeated claims of clamping down on crossings, but the crisis has continued to worsen.
The changing weather conditions also make for an easier trip across the perilous Dover Strait shipping lane.
In one case, around 13 refugees were pictured crammed on one dinghy alongside a Border Force vessel and a large French boat in the middle of the English Channel.
The Coastguard launched its fixed-wing aircraft to work alongside the Border Force vessels Hunter and Speedwell, plus the Dover lifeboat.
Two French vessels are also said to be involved.
Chris Philp, the Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, said: ‘We are working tirelessly with the French to stop these illegally-facilitated crossings, sharing criminal intelligence with the NCA and French authorities.
‘And a substantial French law enforcement deployment last weekend prevented over 100 migrants from making the crossings – with the French also stopping migrants today.
‘Migrants should not risk their lives leaving a safe country and we will look return those who did today where possible.’
A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty’s Coastguard has coordinated search and rescue responses to a number of incidents off Kent today, working with Border Force.
One group of migrants were escorted by a French vessel before being handed over to UK authorities
One of the vessels had several women and children on board as they crossed the Channel
One of the migrant boats was severely overloaded as it made its way across the Channel
One of the men let slip a plastic container which had been used to bail out the boat
‘We sent the Dover RNLI lifeboat, Border Force vessels Hunter and Speedwell and the HM Coastguard fixed-wing aircraft. We are committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.
‘HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’
Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley estimates there are up to 200 child migrants living in squalor in settlements across Calais – most of them unaccompanied.
There are currently around 500 people in one camp in Calais, while 240 are spread out across three smaller sites. At a fifth camp, there are around 30.
Ms Moseley said the youngest unaccompanied child she has met in a camp is a 10-year-old Afghan boy. She has also met a 13-year-old girl without any parents.
The migrants waved at the chartered fishing vessel carrying Mr Farage
She said: ‘That’s a rough figure. At any point, around 20 per cent of the refugees are under 18. A lot of them come from Sudan, where they could be recruited as soldiers.
‘And some are from Afghanistan. They might have lost their parents and are trying to join other people in the UK.
‘Coronavirus has made the conditions even worse for them so they are even more desperate to get to the UK. These people have nothing to lose.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The government takes the welfare of unaccompanied children very seriously and provides funding to local authorities, including Kent, as a contribution to the cost of supporting unaccompanied children and those who leave care.
‘This funding was significantly increased in May 2019.’
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