Baby strapped to woman’s chest among record number of migrants to reach UK

Dangerous trips across English Channel have resumed after a two-week hiatus

A woman cradles a baby as she and fellow migrants are brought ashore from a lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent. Getty Images
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A baby strapped to a woman’s chest was among a record number of migrants to arrive in the UK port of Dover as the mild weather fuelled a surge in the number of boats crossing the English Channel.

The child, dressed in a woolly hat and hooded snowsuit, was cradled in a carrier by the woman as she was helped by Border Force staff to disembark from a vessel at the Kent port.

The woman and baby were among at least 1,000 migrants to risk the perilous journey from France on Monday, according to a Sky News tally from witnesses – thought to be a record.

The previous high of 828 arrivals was recorded on August 21 before unsettled weather caused the people traffickers to postpone crossings for two weeks.

On Tuesday morning between 30 and 40 migrants were seen arriving in Dover on board a Border Force vessel after being plucked from a dinghy.

The stream of boats from the continent is likely to continue throughout the week as forecasts show the mild conditions are set to last.

The spike came as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged France to do more to stem the flow of small boats making their way to Britain.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is concerned about the low number of dinghies being intercepted on the other side of the water.

In a bid to hammer home her point, she is said to have threatened to withhold £54 million promised to France to halt the boats, two months after making the pledge.

According to The Times, Ms Patel told Conservative MPs that France must "get its act together if it wants to see the cash".

On Monday, Mr Johnson said Ms Patel was trying to ensure the French authorities impeded the passage of illegal migrants across the Channel.

He was answering a question by Conservative MP Jacob Young, who said Britain's ability to provide Afghans a safe passage to the UK is strained by "the continuing uncontrolled illegal migration on the English Channel".

Mr Johnson said: "The issue is that very sadly I think our friends across the Channel in France are faced with a very difficult problem.

A little girl is helped ashore by a Border Force agent in Kent after arriving on a small boat from France. Getty

"A large number of people want to come to this country and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do the necessary and impede their passage.

"But I know the Home Secretary is working right around the clock to ensure that we not only encourage the French to stiffen their sinews and stop people making the journey, but we use every possible tactic available to us as well."

A packed lifeboat was pictured arriving on a beach in Dungeness in Kent on Monday morning after picking up migrants from a dinghy out at sea.

A second dinghy was shown pulled up on the shore with discarded lifejackets around it.

Images showed young boys and girls being carried or escorted to safety among several men and women.

Three large white coaches were parked up on a stretch of land, apparently ready to drive away the arriving migrants.

Sunday saw the first small boat crossings for more than two weeks because of bad weather. About 158 people, including five children, arrived in Dover from four boats.

They took the total number of people who have crossed to the UK aboard small boats this year to more than 12,500, PA reported.

Crossings in 2021 have already eclipsed last year's annual total of 8,417 and the tally continues to rise on fair weather days.

Despite this, the UK continues to have far fewer boats arriving and asylum claims than many European countries.

Updated: November 22, 2021, 8:29 AM