Young girl wearing pyjamas among 250 migrants rescued off English coast

More than 190 migrants were prevented by French authorities from crossing to Britain

More than 250 migrants arrived in Dover, Kent, on Thursday after crossing from France. PA
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A young girl wearing fleece pyjamas and a leopard-print coat was among 250 migrants who arrived in Britain on Thursday after crossing the English Channel on small boats.

The child — with a teddy bear poking out from her pocket — was seen being led by an officer along a gangway after disembarking a rescue vessel.

After a lull in crossings because of the cold weather and a spate of storms, groups of migrants this week began to attempt the perilous voyage again.

Men and women wrapped in thick winter coats and blankets streamed into the port of Dover on Thursday morning.

The arrivals continued into the afternoon when more than 20 people who landed on Dungeness beach in Kent in a dinghy were met by officials.

The Home Office confirmed that authorities had rescued or intercepted 253 people on 10 boats on Thursday.

Across the Channel, 196 people on seven boats were prevented from crossing by French authorities.

On Tuesday 230 people reached British shores after crossing from France.

Since the start of the year, more than 1,500 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in dinghies, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

Last year the figures reached a record high when 28,526 arrivals were registered.

But the UN says millions around the globe were prevented from migrating by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Home Office in February published the first statistics measuring irregular migration, which confirmed the government’s official recorded annual totals.

According to the report, last year’s figure dwarfs the 8,466 people who crossed in 2020, 1,843 in 2019 and 299 in 2018.

It comes as separate immigration figures show the number of asylum claims made in the UK has climbed to its highest in nearly two decades, while the backlog of cases waiting to be determined continues to soar.

Updated: March 04, 2022, 9:37 AM