Search and rescue operations launched in Channel amid wave of migrant crossings

Search and rescue operations have been launched along the Kent coast, according to the coastguard, amid a wave of migrant crossings of the English Channel.

Border Force vessels are at the scene in response to “a number of incidents”, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said.

Rescue teams were sent from Folkestone and Deal to help with the operation on Saturday morning.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
A Border Force boat carrying a family of suspected migrants earlier this week (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Kent Police and the South East Ambulance Service have also been assisting with the operation.

The coastguard spokeswoman added that crews are concerned with “rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities”.

By Friday more than 220 migrants, including at least 40 children, had been intercepted by UK and French authorities since Thursday last week.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Friday that urgent action is needed to tackle the migrant crisis in the Channel, adding that plans are being drawn up “immediately” to deal with the problem.

Her comments came following a meeting with French interior minister Christophe Castaner in Paris on Thursday, where the pair agreed to step up resources to intercept and stop the wave of crossings in small boats.

Priti Patel
Priti Patel held a meeting with her French counterpart earlier this week to discuss the migrant crossings (Toby Melville/PA)

The prospect of British financial support for efforts to stem the flow of crossings from France was discussed at the meeting, according to the French AFP news agency, and Mr Castaner said that money from London would “reinforce patrols and improve effectiveness”.

Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned illegal migrants they would be sent back if they risked crossing the Channel.

He said: “If you come illegally, you are an illegal immigrant and I’m afraid the law will treat you as such.”

The Home Office have been approached for comment.

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