United Kingdom minister heads home over migrant boat issue

UNCLEARED GRABS- Six Iranian men have landed on a Kent beach near Dover

Home Secretary Sajid Javid cut short a family Christmas break to return to the United Kingdom after declaring a "major incident" on Friday, as 39 migrants in small boats have arrived on the Kent coast since Christmas Day.

He said on Saturday: "The situation in the Channel is of grave concern, with people gambling their lives in reckless attempts to reach the United Kingdom in unsafe boats and treacherous conditions".

He added: "Unfortunately there are no easy answers".

He added that he anticipated further arrests in the coming weeks and thought more attempts to reach the United Kingdom were likely.

It's thought the plan will involve action targeting people trafficking gangs, and to raise awareness among migrants of the potential dangers.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet: "We have a duty to reach out the hand of humanity, support and friendship to people who are in danger and seeking a place of safety".

However, in the face of calls for more Border Force Cutters to be deployed in the Channel, he said it was "vital we strike a balance between protecting them and protecting our borders" - and avoid encouraging more people to take the risk.

Speaking as the home secretary declared a "major incident" in waters off the south coast of England at the weekend, Rt Rev Trevor Willmott called for a compassionate response.

Six Iranian men were found on a Kent beach early on Sunday, in the latest successful crossing of the Channel from France by migrants in inflatable boats.

The group were handed over to immigration authorities after being spotted in Kingsdown, near Deal.

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As the number of migrants attempting the risky crossing continues to grow, there is now mounting concern that it's "only a matter of time before people lose their lives", the Home Office said.

"At the same time, the UK's NCA-led Organised Immigration Taskforce is working to stop people smuggling at source".

She said the United Kingdom was working with France to try to prevent migrants from setting out in the first place, and there was an "enormous" ongoing intelligence-led operation to deter people traffickers.

"There are a number of reasons behind the recent increase, many outside the UK's control". He conceded there were no "easy answers" to the English Channel migrant crisis. But now we have smugglers on the French coast and it is really a network.

A Border Force RIB vessel was pictured on patrol in Dover Harbour on Saturday.

The UK Immigration minister Caroline Nokes is defending her government's handling of a surge in illegal migrants crossing the English Channel.

Even though more than 10,000 Syrians having been flown into the United Kingdom under government resettlement programmes in the last few years, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey claimed that the only way to tackle illegal immigration is for Britain to "ensure safe routes to sanctuary in Britain for those forced out of their homes, whether by war in Syria or persecution in Iran".

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.

Security has been tightened at key locations in and around Calais where migrants have in the past congregated to try to get onto lorries for the final leg of the journey to the UK.

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