Kent

Dinghies carrying 76 migrants intercepted in Channel

Migrants arriving in Dover
Image caption Officals in protective equipment were seen escorting migrants from Border Force vessels

Five dinghies carrying 76 migrants have been intercepted in the Channel by Border Force.

All those on board were brought to Dover and will be monitored for signs of coronavirus, the Home Office said.

Footage showed officials at the port in personal protective equipment escorting people from Border Force vessels.

The Home Office blamed the crossings on criminals "using false promises to take advantage of desperate situations and illegally smuggle people into the UK".

Image caption Border Force officers were seen towing one of the dinghies to shore

Charities have warned that people are living in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in migrant camps in northern France, leaving them vulnerable to being infected by coronavirus.

Governments on both sides of the Channel last year pledged to make crossings an "infrequent phenomenon" by the spring.

More than 450 people have made the crossing in April, the busiest month on record since November 2018.

Immigration minister Chris Philp said: "We are continuing to support the French to deploy extra patrols on French beaches, drones, specialist vehicles and detection equipment to stop these boats leaving European shores."

The Home Office said the virus crisis was having no impact on its operational response to the crossings.

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