Channel crossings: Children among dozens helped ashore across Kent as boat arrivals spark rescue

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, on board the Dover lifeboat (Gareth Fuller/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Children wrapped in blankets have been helped ashore in Dover as dozens of people have crossed the English Channel on Thursday.

Rescue operations have been under way off the coast of Kent as lifeboat crews and Border Force responded to a flurry of small boats in the busy shipping lane.

More than 1,200 people have reached the UK in the last seven days after risking death taking the perilous journey.

This is despite two people losing their lives while attempting the crossing in recent weeks and several more feared to have been lost at sea.

A young girl amongst a group of people thought to be migrants she arrives in Dover, Kent, after being rescued by the Dover lifeboat Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

On Thursday, groups of people were seen arriving in the Kent port aboard the lifeboat as well as Border Force’s Hurricane vessel on a grey November day.

Children wrapped in jackets and blankets against the autumn chill, some carried in the arms of adults, were among those being brought ashore by border officials.

Further along the coast, more people were reportedly seen arriving on Hastings beach after being picked up by the RNLI.

Numbers of people arriving in Britain aboard dinghies and other small boats, a highly dangerous trip, have continued to rise in 2021.

More than 22,300 people have so far succeeded in reaching the UK aboard small boats this year, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

This is more than double the number for the whole of 2020.

Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

At least 100,907 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In a statement released after 695 people reached the UK on Wednesday, the Home Office’s clandestine Channel threat commander, Dan O’Mahoney, said: “Migrants making these dangerous crossings are putting their lives at risk and it is vital we do everything we can to prevent them and break the business model of the criminal gangs exploiting people.

“As part of our response it is important we have a maritime deterrent in the channel and Border Force officers are authorised to use safe and legal options for stopping small boats.”