Newborn baby rescued from migrant boat after nine hours in English Channel

Baby Ayyan among migrants brought to safety by RNLI on Saturday as numbers reaching the UK by sea continue unabated

The RNLI has rescued migrants in record numbers in 2021. PA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A newborn baby was rescued on Saturday after spending nine hours in the English Channel with a group of migrants.

Baby Ayyan was brought to safety by UK lifeboat charity the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, before being swaddled in a blanket and handed to a police officer in Dungeness, Kent.

Her mother was among the rescued group and, through a fellow migrant, told Sky News Ayyan was doing well despite the torrid experience.

She said she had risked the crossing to England with her daughter to get the "best life" for them.

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats in 2021 reached a record high in July.

Despite the UK signing a deal with France in an attempt to reduce the illegal crossings, migrants have continued to reach British shores. The figure stands at more than 17,000, over double the previous annual high, with three months left in the year.

One of the migrants who made the crossing with Ayyan, and who translated for her mother, said no attempt had been made by French authorities to stop them.

UK seeks solution to illegal migrant crossings

The porous Franco-British border has seen the UK government intensify efforts to curtail the flow of migrant boats across the Channel.

In September, authorities announced a plan to establish asylum reception centres on sites away from the northern French coast using British funds.

And UK Home Secretary Priti Patel came under fire from human rights groups and the French government in the same month after it emerged Border Force staff were being trained to turn away the small boats at sea.

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote to the UK at the time warning the policy would damage bilateral relations and said “safeguarding human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migratory policy”.

Another boat carrying between 15 and 20 migrants arrived later on Saturday, according to Sky News, a further reminder that a solution to the thorny issue is far from at hand.

Updated: October 10, 2021, 5:24 AM