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‘Getting a grip’ on the English Channel migrant dinghy debacle

The English Channel

Over 200 illegal migrants have attempted to cross the English Channel in small boats and dinghies and enter the UK over the last month, including 40, mainly young men from Iran and Syria, in five boats on Christmas Day alone. Nearly 100 illegal migrants have managed to make it to the south east coast around Dover crossing one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world using small boats and inflatable dinghies stolen or supplied by Muslim – mainly Kurdish and Afghan – trafficking gangs operating in the Calais area of northern France. And more are expected to make the trip in the new year with relatively calm seas forecast between Dover and Calais.

Sajid Javid, the millionaire Pakistani Muslim Tory home secretary, was forced to cut his luxury Christmas holiday in South Africa short and return to the UK in order to ‘get a grip’ on the sudden migrant influx which he described as a “major incident”. Despite the French authorities closing down the main migrant camp on the northern French coast, thousands of migrants still congregate in the Calais area looking to enter the UK, particularly the sub-Saharan Africans who can’t afford to pay for a boat, by jumping on the back of a lorry or hiding in a car. The recent arrival of relatively well-heeled Iranians, fleeing a country rocked by economic sanctions and proxy wars in the Middle East, has complicated the situation. One of them claimed to have spent £3,000 on two unsuccessful crossings recently, on top of the £10,000 it cost him to travel across Europe and get to Calais.

However, despite the Tory panic, the numbers are still very small, albeit growing in scale over the last few weeks. In comparison, 10,000 illegal migrants arrived in Greece in a single day during the height of the 2015 Merkel-inspired migrant crisis. And in the third quarter of this year, 7,444 migrants have claimed asylum in the UK, most of whom arrived at airports from African countries such as Uganda and the Congo.

Only one of the UK Border Force’s five patrol boats has been deployed to deal with the illegal migrant crossings so far and that feeble response heightened an already dangerous situation when it docked for six hours at Ramsgate on Saturday afternoon leaving the south east coast exposed to further illegal migrant crossings over the weekend.

Lord West, the former head of the Royal Navy, said the number of patrol boats in the English Channel was “ridiculously small” and left the country vulnerable to illegal immigration and terrorism.