Home Office: Spike in migrant boat crossings partly due to lockdown

At least 609 migrants have arrived by boat since March 23

Thursday, May 7, 2020

An increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel by boat is due partly to lockdown road restrictions at the border, the Home Secretary has said.

According to the Home Office, Priti Patel had a “very positive” call with her French counterpart Christophe Castaner yesterday, in which they discussed their joint work in dealing with migrant crossings.

It comes as 11 more migrants aboard an inflatable boat, who said they were from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, were intercepted by Border Force today.

At least 609 migrants have been intercepted in the waters and brought to the UK since lockdown began in Britain on March 23, which is more than half of the entire total of 987 for 2020.

In a report of her call with Mr Castaner, Ms Patel emphasised it was “more important than ever” to work closely together.

The Home Office reported: “Both noted that the increase in small boat arrivals is in part due to restrictions of road crossing due to Covid lockdown.”

Figures show that the number of passenger vehicles crossing between France and the UK via the Eurotunnel in April 2020 was down 91 per cent on the same month last year and the amount of freight trucks making the journey also fell 34 per cent.

Migrants brought ashore at Dover are assessed for symptoms of coronavirus but are not specifically tested.

The Home Office says the Covid-19 crisis has had no impact on its ability to deal with small boat crossings.

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