Anti-racism campaigners hold vigil in Kent to ‘welcome refugees to the UK’

A Border Force Cutter on patrol in the English Channel near Dover in Kent Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Campaigners have called for compassion towards migrants braving the Channel as they host a vigil welcoming refugees to the UK.

Kent Anti-Racism Network (KARN) is organising the gathering in Ramsgate Harbour on Sunday afternoon.

The group said it is “very concerned” for those making the crossing in small boats.

It describes itself as a group of residents who want to “firmly say refugees are welcome here”.

KARN publicised the event, urging people to take part with banners and placards.

Donations will be collected for not-for-profit organisation Care4Calais, which is providing aid for refugees in northern France.

The news comes as the country’s interior ministry announced it was tightening up security and stepping up patrols in the “fight” against illegal migrant Channel crossings.

Authorities will now carry out around-the-clock surveillance on French beaches and across the Channel.

This came as the UK sent Royal Navy ship HMS Mersey to patrol the Dover Strait.

Two Border Force cutters have been called back from the Mediterranean to take up patrols and Home Secretary Sajid Javid pledged more cash and technology such as drones and radars, the French authorities said.

French interior minister Christophe Castaner said: “This plan should allow us to end these crossings by migrants who are not only illegal but also extremely dangerous.

“It is in our interest, as it is for the UK, to not allow new smugglers to operate which would attract new migrants.”

Of the 504 migrants seeking to cross the English Channel in 2018, 276 managed to get to British waters and coasts, and 228 were intercepted by the French authorities.

Most of the people are Iranian, according to the interior ministry.