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More than 200 migrants illegally crossed the Channel in small boats on Monday after people-smugglers took advantage of clear weather and calm seas, taking the total number who have made the treacherous voyage from France to nearly 3,500.

UK Border Force authorities intercepted 213 men, women and young children in six dinghies and brought them ashore in Kent, the Home Office said.

At least 30 people are thought to have crossed the Channel so far this morning, reaching Dover around 5.30am, with dozens more expected to arrive later in the day. 

In March alone, nearly 2,000 migrants have so far sailed across the Channel in 61 small boats, while 3,444 have arrived in Britain in 112 dinghies in 2022. During the same period to March 21 last year, the figure was 806 migrants, making it an increase of 300 per cent this year. In 2021, more than 28,500 migrants made the crossing from France. 

A Home Office spokeswoman said joint operations with the French had ‘prevented more than 23,000 migrant attempts’ in 2021 and 19 small boat organised criminal groups had been dismantled with 400 arrests since July 2020. 

Campaigners say the Channel migrants are refugees who are fleeing persecution or war in countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The National Crime Agency has warned the UK maritime industry to beware of organised crime groups targeting them to obtain small boats for people smugglers. 

It comes as the Government is currently paving the way for Ukrainians escaping Putin’s bombs to enter Britain, with more than 150,000 people in the UK expressing their interest in sponsoring visa applications for ‘thousands’ of refugees.

Tom Pursglove, Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, said: ‘The rise in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable.

A Coastguard officer carries a young baby as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A Coastguard officer carries a young baby as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A Coastguard officer carries a young baby as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

Young children amongst a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

Young children amongst a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

Young children amongst a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel, March 22, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel, March 22, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel, March 22, 2022

A Coastguard officer carries a young baby as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A Coastguard officer carries a young baby as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

A Coastguard officer carries a young baby as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

An Interforce Security officer carries a young child as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

An Interforce Security officer carries a young child as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

An Interforce Security officer carries a young child as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 22, 2022

In March alone, nearly 2,000 migrants have so far sailed across the Channel in 61 small boats, while 3,444 have arrived in Britain in 112 dinghies in 2022. During the same period to March 21 last year, the figure was 806 migrants, making it an increase of 300 per cent this year. In 2021, more than 28,500 migrants made the crossing from France

In March alone, nearly 2,000 migrants have so far sailed across the Channel in 61 small boats, while 3,444 have arrived in Britain in 112 dinghies in 2022. During the same period to March 21 last year, the figure was 806 migrants, making it an increase of 300 per cent this year. In 2021, more than 28,500 migrants made the crossing from France

In March alone, nearly 2,000 migrants have so far sailed across the Channel in 61 small boats, while 3,444 have arrived in Britain in 112 dinghies in 2022. During the same period to March 21 last year, the figure was 806 migrants, making it an increase of 300 per cent this year. In 2021, more than 28,500 migrants made the crossing from France 

‘Not only are they an overt abuse of our immigration laws but they also impact on the UK taxpayer, risk lives and our ability to help refugees come to the UK via safe and legal routes. Rightly, the British public has had enough.

‘Through our Nationality and Borders Bill, we’re cracking down on people smugglers and fixing the broken system by making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and introducing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who facilitate illegal entry into our country.’

Border Force cutter Hunter brought the first group of around 20 people into Dover Marina around midday on Monday, with the mostly male group wearing red blankets over their lifejackets waved as they walked up the gangway for processing.

Hunter returned to harbour shortly afterwards carrying around 30 more migrants, including some women. Large Border Force vessel Seeker docked just before 1pm with 50 more people intercepted attempting the dangerous journey.

A short while later three migrants were rescued by the RNLI in Littlestone-on-Sea after getting stuck in the Channel on a tiny dinghy. They are believed to have ditched the engine of their vessel to be helped from the 21-mile Dover Strait.

The three young men were brought to safety by a lifeboat around 1pm with their deflated boat in tow and handed over to Kent Police once they had reached the shore.

The NCA has warned that boat owners should take extra security measures to protect vessels and equipment while reporting suspicious behaviour following thefts.

Retailers are also asked to report unusual purchases of untreated plywood boards, PVC tarpaulin sheets and duct tape as these materials are often used to reinforce and modify inflatables.

Intel has led the NCA to believe OCGs are using ever more dangerous and un-seaworthy boats to smuggle people across the Channel with no regard for increasing the risk to life. Its new appeal, backed by Border Force and charity Crimestoppers, will see striking leaflets and social media posts issued. 

NCA Deputy Director Andrea Wilson said: ‘As the weather starts to improve, making small boat crossings more likely, we are taking this opportunity to reinforce our appeals to those within the marine and maritime industries to help us stop those involved in organised people smuggling. 

Three young men ditched the engine of a tiny mustard yellow dingy vessel to be helped from the 21-mile Dover Strait

Three young men ditched the engine of a tiny mustard yellow dingy vessel to be helped from the 21-mile Dover Strait

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel

Three young men ditched the engine of a tiny mustard yellow dingy vessel to be helped from the 21-mile Dover Strait

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022 

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

Migrants disembark from the UK Border Force vessel HMC Alert, after they were picked up at sea while attempting to cross the Channel, and brought to the Marina in Dover, March 16, 2022

Migrants disembark from the UK Border Force vessel HMC Alert, after they were picked up at sea while attempting to cross the Channel, and brought to the Marina in Dover, March 16, 2022

Migrants disembark from the UK Border Force vessel HMC Alert, after they were picked up at sea while attempting to cross the Channel, and brought to the Marina in Dover, March 16, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, March 21, 2022 

‘Crossing the channel in these types of vessels is extremely dangerous, but the criminals involved don’t care about safety, they just see people as a commodity to be exploited. Tragically, in the last year we have seen the fatal consequences of that.

‘Appeals like this are an important part of our activity to disrupt these gangs and go hand in hand with law enforcement activity to stop them.

‘We continue to work with partners to target the supply of these vessels but we need the help of those in the UK maritime industry and coastal communities to do that, and I’d ask them to report any suspicions they may have.’

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, the trade association for the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry, said: ‘We are pleased to be continuing our partnership with the NCA to help raise awareness of organised crime linked to the supply of small boats; and highlight the steps businesses and boat owners should take to protect themselves and others.

‘As a trade association, safety is at the heart of what we do and I am confident that our members will continue to take the lead in this area by reporting suspicious activity and familiarising themselves with the “red flags” to be mindful of when selling boats and marine equipment.

‘This is a vitally important campaign from the NCA and I would encourage all leisure marine businesses and boat owners to report any signs of suspicious activity and take additional security measures to prevent them becoming the victims of theft.’

Meanwhile, a Sudanese man aged in his 20s who is believed to have only reached the Calais region a few days earlier in hope of reaching the UK, was hit by a vehicle while walking in the road in northern France.

He died at the scene near the village of Nouvelle-Eglise at 6am on Thursday.

It is the fifth migrant death in the Calais region so far this year – with the man only arriving a few days previous according to Voix Du Nord. 

Source: dailymail

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