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Four UK-bound migrant boats caught after French camp evictions

The vessels, which included a kayak, were intercepted by Border Force as they headed for British shores on Sunday.

A group of men thought to be migrants are brought to shore by Border Force officers at the Port of Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A group of men thought to be migrants are brought to shore by Border Force officers at the Port of Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

By Thomas Hornall, PA

A total of 41 UK-bound migrants, including two in a kayak, have been intercepted in the Channel after a wave of camp clearances in France.

Four small boats were caught heading for British shores by Border Force on Sunday amid sunny weather and relatively calm conditions.

Two men, who said they were an Iranian and an Afghan, were picked up after attempting the perilous voyage in a kayak, the Home Office said.

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A couple thought to be migrants are brought to shore by Border Force officers (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Another boat carrying 24 migrants, comprising 22 adults and two children, was intercepted, as was a vessel carrying six migrants, comprising five men and one woman.

A further small vessel carrying nine people, seven men and two women, was also caught.

The migrants presented themselves as variously Iranian, Afghan, Turkish and Malian.

All have been medically checked and taken to immigration officials for questioning, the Home Office said.

It comes days after Border Force intercepted what is thought to be the highest number of migrants in a single day amid warnings the closure of a French camp could prompt a spike in Channel crossings.

Some 86 men, women and children attempted the journey in small boats on Tuesday, with some managing to land on beaches before being detained.

Refugee charity Care4Calais warned the imminent closure of a gym in Dunkirk, where up to 1,000 migrants are living, is likely to prompt a spike in crossing attempts.

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A group of men brought to shore at the Port of Dover in Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

On Friday morning, French police officers – including some apparently armed with tear gas guns – cordoned off the road by an area of wasteland and woodland on the outskirts of the port town of Calais, telling those camping there to leave and move their tents.

The wave of migrant camp evictions and the looming clearance of the Dunkirk gym – currently thought to be housing more than 70 families, many of whom have young children – came after a French court order was issued.

On Friday, the National Crime Agency said six people suspected of being part of organised crime groups smuggling migrants across the Channel in lorries and small boats had been arrested this week.

The number of migrants taken in by UK authorities so far this year is thought to have already passed 1,000.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel met her French counterpart last month (Yui Mok/PA)

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working closely at all levels with the French authorities to tackle this dangerous and illegal activity.

“In addition, Border Force cutters are patrolling the Channel and we have deployed equipment to detect migrant activity.

“Last month, the Home Secretary and her French counterpart agreed to intensify joint action to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel.

“This includes drawing up an enhanced action plan to deploy more resources along the French coast to intercept and stop crossings.”

Border Force cutters are continuing to patrol the Channel while drones, CCTV and night vision goggles are used.

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said urgent action was needed to put a stop to the tide of crossings, after she met French interior minister Christophe Castaner in Paris.

More detail on the action plan is yet to be released.

PA

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