Kent

Channel migrants: Sixty-six people found in small boats

Eight migrants land at Kingsdown Image copyright Stephen Ray
Image caption Eight men were detained by police after landing on the Kent coast

Sixty six men women and children have been found in one day crossing the English Channel in small boats heading for the Kent coast.

One of the four boats was carrying 27 adults and eight children, said the Home Office.

Another boat reached Kingsdown, Kent. Eight men were passed to immigration officers after being held by police.

In addition to the 66, a dinghy with 13 men was returned to Calais after being spotted by a French navy helicopter.

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

Image copyright Premar Manche
Image caption A French navy helicopter spotted 13 men in a dinghy off the coast of Calais at about 04:30 BST

Home Secretary Priti Patel met her French counterpart Christophe Castaner in Paris on Thursday to discuss a joint response to the rise in crossings.

They agreed to develop an "enhanced action plan" to stop vessels leaving the French coast.

In the early hours of Saturday the French authorities alerted the Border Force to a boat carrying 16 migrants towards the UK.

The six men, five women and five children on board were taken to Dover. One woman needed hospital treatment.

Another boat carrying seven people was later intercepted in mid Channel. Those on board were also taken to Dover.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGavin Lee boards a small boat to see some of the dangers face by migrants

The migrants have told immigration officials their nationalities are Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian, Kuwaiti and Lebanese.

Police said on Thursday the body of a migrant who fell from a boat off the coast of Ramsgate on 9 August has been found, while the body of an Iraqi migrant, who is believed to have drowned while trying to swim to the UK, was found at a wind farm off the coast of Belgium on 23 August.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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