Migrants rejoice after crossing English Channel in dinghy on record day

Dozens of people landed on a beach in Kent, watched by UK border police

A group of people have been pictured celebrating after crossing the English Channel in a single dinghy and landing on a beach on Britain's south coast on a record day of arrivals.

Dozens climbed off the boat in warm coastal weather, watched by UK border police and lifeboat operators who had tracked the dinghy as it approached land.

Some migrants raised their hands in celebration while others carried children on to the beach at Dungeness before the arrivals were escorted away by Border Force staff.

Believed to have set off from France or Belgium, they were among at least 430 people who crossed the Channel on Monday, a new record for a single day.

They are the latest among thousands of people who have crossed the seaway to Britain in the first seven months of 2021.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, travelling either on boats, or in lorries through the Channel Tunnel, or on ferries.

Authorities in Kent, the county at England's south-eastern tip, announced last month that they could not take in any more unaccompanied child migrants.

The latest arrivals came as the UK's House of Commons debated a controversial bill awarding the government new powers to push migrants back to countries such as France.

The bill would pave the way for illegal migrants to be imprisoned for up to four years or held outside the UK in what the government says would be a “safe third country” while their claims are considered.

The UN's refugee agency said the bill would create a discriminatory system, punishing people who arrive spontaneously in Britain.

“Addressing people-smuggling is crucial, but these proposals would damage lives, be hard to implement and undermine international co-operation on refugee issues,” it said on Monday.

Britain's ruling Conservatives said the bill would “break the business model of vile criminal gangs” who engage in people smuggling across the Channel.

Updated: July 20th 2021, 7:01 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS