Migrant children rescued after boat's generator breaks down in French waters

The rescue came as record numbers reach England

Child migrants were rescued from a boat in the English Channel, which was drifting without power.

They were among a group of about 30 people stuck on the broken dinghy in the Channel, trying to reach the English coast.

The rescue on Monday came as record numbers have reached England this year, and the UK looks to implement its plan of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The children were returned to France, carried ashore by crew members of the Abeille Languedoc rescue vessel.

They had left France from somewhere along the Boulogne-sur-Mer coast in northern France, but the dinghy’s generator broke down while still in French waters.

The Abeille Languedoc is an ocean-going tug specialising in the rescue of ships in distress, and has been moored in Cherbourg for 26 years monitoring the Channel between the Cotentin Peninsula and the Pas-de-Calais.

A rescuer carries a child as they disembark from the 'Abeille Languedoc'. AFP

Crew members gave children toys and blankets after the rescue, as they were returned to France.

The Channel run is a popular but dangerous route across one of the world's busiest shipping lanes for migrants fleeing some of the world’s trouble spots.

There have been increasing numbers of people crossing in the last three years with 2021 setting a record high and 2022 seeing year-on-year highs.

At least 7,7,39 migrants have arrived in the UK via the Channel so far this year, many of them in unseaworthy boats. That is more than triple the tally for this time last year.

The humanitarian problem has inspired the UK government’s controversial Rwanda policy and its promise to deport people who make the Channel crossing.

The Home Office has said deportations could start as early as this week.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said legal challenges have delayed implementation of the policy she described as a “world-first” agreement.

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, one of the organisations vowing legal action against the plan, said: “There's nothing 'world-first' about this agreement — it's a neocolonial embarrassment that seeks to trade black and brown refugees for money with a country whose human rights record is abysmal.

“Terrible harm is already being done — people are terrified of receiving these letters, including asylum-seeking children who have arrived in the UK on their own. We'll see the government in court.”

Guidance published by the Home Office states Rwanda is “a safe country to relocate people to”, although an assessment carried out before the UK-Rwanda agreement found “some concerns with its human rights record around political opposition to the current regime, dissent and free speech”.

Updated: May 10, 2022, 10:49 AM