'Over 800 migrants' land on years' 'busiest day of Channel crossings'
‘More than 800 migrants’ land in Britain on ‘busiest day of Channel crossings this year’ – as smiling asylum seekers make Albania’s controversial eagle hand sign and give ‘V for Victory’ gesture as they arrive
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As many as 800 migrants are thought to have landed in Britain today on could have been the busiest day of Channel crossings so far this year.
A total of 16 boats arrived on the south coast of England on Monday as smugglers on the French coast sought to capitalise on fine weather conditions.
Although the final tally won’t be published until tomorrow, sources claimed tonight the number of migrants could be above the current daily record for 2023 of 756 on August 10.
It is a new blow for Rishi Sunak’s pledge to ‘stop the boats’, with the Prime Minister today admitting that this may not be fulfilled before the next election.
The migrants who did arrive today were seen smiling with some making Albania’s controversial eagle hand sign and the ‘V for Victory’ gesture at photographers.
A man performs the Albanian eagle gesture as he arrives into Rye Harbour on an RNLI Coastguard boat on Monday
A Syrian migrant rescued from a boat crossing the English Channel gestures as he walks to get on the Home Office bus on Dungeness Beach
An immigration official shepherds a young boy and carries a toddler in his arms after they were brought ashore in Kent
A group of people thought to be migrants make their way off an RNLI lifeboat on Dungeness Beach today after being found in the English Channel
Up to 39 people arrived at Dungeness beach on the Romney Marsh on Monday after being intercepted by the Coastguard as they made their way through thick fog in English Channel.
Police and immigration officials were seen searching migrants, including children and toddlers wrapped in blankets, after they made landfall – with witnesses saying as many as 600 were picked up from dinghies throughout the day.
How the Albanian double-headed eagle has previously sparked controversy
One man arriving in Britain today posed for the cameras in Kent by putting his hands together to form a double-headed eagle similar to the one on the Albanian flag.
The gesture was performed at the 2018 World Cup by footballers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, who were playing for Switzerland against Serbia.
Former Liverpool star Shaqiri was born in Kosovo and Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was born to Albanian parents who were originally from Serbia.
His father was a political prisoner following the 1968 student demonstrations in Yugoslavia against the communist government in Belgrade. Xhaka’s brother Taulant plays for Albania’s national side.
The nationalist symbol risked inflaming tensions in the Balkans among Serbians – who do not recognise Kosovo’s independence – and ethnic Albanians.
The Serbian FA lodged a formal complaint over the nationalist symbol and the players received a warning and a fine of around £7,500 for unsporting behaviour.
Photos show some migrants who arrived appearing to be in a good mood with at least one man putting his hands together to form a double-headed eagle, similar to the one depicted on the Albanian flag.
The controversial nationalist gesture first came to prominence in 2018 when Swiss footballers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri performed it during a match against Serbia, with critics accusing them of inflaming tensions between Serbian nationalist and ethnic Albanians.
In recent years Albanians have made up a growing number of those crossing the English Channel in small boats – in 2022 around 16 per cent of all asylum applicants were Albanian nationals.
It comes after it was revealed that more than 25,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Britain in small boats since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister.
Many of the migrants can be seen smiling after they were searched and allowed to board the coach provided by the Home Office.
Earlier today, more asylum seekers arrived at the Port of Dover. The Border Force vessel Hurricane brought at least one group ashore at the port.
Today is the sixth consecutive day the migrants have arrived with 1,167 known to have crossed since August 16.
It comes just nine days since six Afghan men drowned after their dinghy capsized off Sangatte on the French coast.
A total of 17,956 people have made the crossing so far this year in 377 boats, according to official government figures. But today arrivals have yet to be confirmed.
August has seen 3,224 migrants intercepted in 60 boats so far. 467 people made the crossing this weekend – 130 were detected on Saturday and 337 on Sunday.
Last year saw a record 45,755 people cross the Channel – compared to 28,526 in 2021.
During a visit to a nursery in North Yorkshire, Mr Sunak said stopping the boats was one of his top five priorities ahead of next year’s likely general election.
It is thought the 25,000 arrivals since Mr Sunak’s premiership started was topped on Friday when the Home Office recorded that 144 people arrived in three boats.
Over the past 12 months, French authorities have been able to stop less than half of those boats seeking to cross the Channel.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these dangerous crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system.
‘Our priority is to stop the boats, and our Small Boats Operational Command is working alongside our French partners and other agencies to disrupt the people smugglers.
‘The government is going even further through our Illegal Migration Act which will mean that people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.’
Despite the UK government’s efforts to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers making the perilous journey across the English Channel on small boats, the improving weather conditions are allowing more migrants to attempt the crossing
Migrants rescued from a boat crossing the English Channel are tagged and searched upon arrival at Dungeness Beach
It has been estimated that up to 600 migrants have crossed the Channel in one day
A queue of people wait to board the coach as police check and search the migrants
The Dungeness Lifeboat reportedly brought 39 people ashore on the Romney Marsh
A look at some of the young children who were rescued earlier today at Dungeness
A look at one of the toddlers brought into Dungeness in Kent earlier this morning
Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said Mr Sunak had ‘fundamentally failed to get a grip’ on the migrant crisis in the English Channel, despite a pledge to put a stop to small boats crossing from France.
READ MORE: Just a day after six people died crossing the Channel, dozens of migrants are seen heading for Britain
‘The Conservatives have allowed criminal smuggling gangs to take hold on Britain’s borders and Tory incompetence is risking our national security, putting lives at risk, and pounding the public purse for millions every day,’ he said.
‘Rishi Sunak has fundamentally failed to get a grip and crossings are rocketing on his watch.
‘It’s time for a different approach. The Prime Minister must now back Labour’s plan to stop the dangerous Channel crossings by going after the criminal gangs, by securing a returns deal with Europe, and by clearing the asylum backlog which is costing the taxpayer £6 million a day.’
Speaking to broadcasters earlier today, the Prime Minister said: ‘One of my five priorities is to stop the boats.
‘The current system is both unsustainable and is completely unfair, but particularly unfair on British taxpayers who are forking out millions of pounds to house illegal migrants in hotels and local communities.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent
Following a small boat incident in the Channel, an RNLI lifeboat brought in the migrants
‘That’s not right. We’ve got to put a stop to that. And we’re working on it.
‘It’s not an easy problem to fix. I never said we would be able to solve it overnight. It will take time and we have to attack it from lots of different ways. But I am pleased that the number of illegal migrants crossing this year is down for the first time in some years.
READ MORE: More than 25,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Britain after crossing the Channel in small boats since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister
‘That shows that our plans are working, but of course there’s still more to do and people should know I am determined to grip this problem, and that’s why one of my five priorities is to stop the boats.’
Pressed again on whether it will be done by the next election, he said: ‘I want it to be done as soon as possible, but I also want to be honest with people that it is a complex problem. There is not one simple solution and it can’t be solved overnight and I wouldn’t be being straight with people if I said that was possible.’
During the same visit, Mr Sunak also defended plans to house migrants on an RAF base in Lincolnshire that has historic links to the Second World War Dambusters raid.
Asked about the risk that moving asylum seekers into RAF Scampton poses to a multimillion-pound investment, he said: ‘Of course the Home Office and other authorities are in dialogue with all local partners to work through all the outstanding issues and questions.’
On why migrants housed in Lincolnshire hotels are not set to be moved to RAF Scampton, with local businesses facing a prolonged squeeze as a result, he added: ‘We are investing in driving growth in the local economy, and at the same time we are taking decisive action to stop the boats.
Two RNLI workers help a group of people thought to be migrants off the boat
Four men can be seen sitting on the front portion of the RNLI safety boat
A man can be seen being searched by a police officer in Dungeness, Kent
One week ago leaked documents revealed that Brussels has ruled out a deal which would allow Channel migrants to be sent back to France
Border Force Typhoon escort 70 migrants into Dover Docks, Kent
More than 17,500 migrants are reported to have crossed the channel so far this year to the UK
The expected migrants are checked again by police and staff before boarding the bus
A group of people thought to be migrants queue for a coach
‘That is why our new law in Parliament is so important. It has been opposed by other parties but I think it is the right thing to do, and we are taking action to reduce, as I say, the amount that taxpayers are spending on housing illegal migrants in hotels.
‘It is millions of pounds a day – that is not right, it is not fair.’
This comes after it was alleged that the Home Office is spending more than £300million on new detention centres for Channel migrants.
The Home Office is seeking contractors to operate three new immigration removal centres (IRCs) designed to hold 1,000 people in total.
The contracts – valued at £306million – will run for four years and ‘possibly for up to a further two years’, official documents say, indicating ministers expect the Channel crisis could continue until the end of the decade.
A week earlier leaked documents revealed that Brussels has ruled out a deal which would allow Channel migrants to be sent back to France.
Official records indicate the refusal came from one of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s most trusted aides.
German politician Bjoern Siebert told senior British officials the bloc will refuse to consider signing a post-Brexit ‘returns agreement’.
The migrants are not being put off by Prime Ministers Rishi Sunak’s new policy ‘stop the small boats’
Dozens of migrants were said to be rescued by the RNLI
It has emerged that more than 25,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Britain in small boats since Rishi Sunak became PM
Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said Mr Sunak had ‘fundamentally failed to get a grip’ on the migrant crisis in the English Channel
According to Ministry of Defence figures, more than 7,600 people, thought to have been asylum seekers, arrived in Britain in small boats between October 25 and December 31
Over the past 12 months, French authorities have been able to stop less than half of those boats seeking to cross the Channel
Home Office figures up to Friday suggest that almost 17,500 people have arrived via the same route in 2023
On Saturday, The Mail on Sunday obtained a copy of official guidance issued to Home Office staff tasked with handling the backlog of 170,000 applications to stay in the UK by foreign nationals who arrive here in small boats or are smuggled in the back of lorries.
Government documents revealed that officials have been told they cannot reject the testimony of a migrant who is caught lying.
They are also ordered not to be sceptical when quizzing asylum seekers – including those who have come from safe countries.
The documents showed that asylum seekers must be reassured that they need not answer upsetting questions.
Home Office staff are also ‘forbidden’ from asking questions about ‘sexual preferences or activity’ in cases where migrants claim to be fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation.
Earlier today it was revealed that thousands of migrants have been slaughtered by Saudi border guards this year after they opened fire on them ‘like rain’ as they tried to cross through Yemen into the Gulf kingdom, a major report has found.
The Human Rights Watch report, released Monday, said some migrants, many of them from Ethiopia, were attacked at close range while others were fired on by mortar projectiles.
Many of the migrants reportedly had their legs severed and fingers shot off as their bodies were strewn across the trail.
The allegations, described as ‘unfounded’ by a Saudi government source, point to a significant escalation of abuses along the perilous ‘Eastern Route’ from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians live and work. The kingdom has previously rejected allegations of systemic killings.
‘Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world,’ HRW researcher Nadia Hardman said in a statement.
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