Five more migrants make perilous Channel crossing to the UK

Five more migrants risk gales to make perilous Channel crossing to the UK days after another refugee drowned taking the number to arrive this year to more than 5,000

  • Numbers of people trying to reach Britain have surged in the summer months 
  • Priti Patel vowed last year that crossings would be an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ 
  • Five who arrived today presented themselves as Sudanese and Chad nationals
  • Their crossing came after  Abdulfatah Hamdallah died while attempting to cross

Five more migrants risked their lives in gale-force winds to cross the channel taking the number who arrived in small boats this year to over 5,000.

Numbers of people trying to reach British shores have surged in the summer months, prompting the Government to deploy RAF planes to the English Channel in an effort to tackle the problem.

This is despite Home Secretary Priti Patel’s vow last year that the crossings would be an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by now, and her recent pledge to make the route ‘completely unviable’. 

The five who arrived today presented themselves as Sudanese and Chad nationals after making the perilous 21-mile trip across the Dover Strait, tackling fierce winds and choppy sea conditions.

Numbers of people trying to reach British shores (one group pictured yesterday) have surged in the summer months, prompting the Government to deploy RAF planes to the English Channel in an effort to tackle the problem 

A haul of boats believed to have been used by migrants are seen in a Port Authority yard this month

A group of men were photographed being picked up by UK Border Force officers yesterday after making the perilous crossing

Their crossing came as French prosecutors investigate the death of 28-year-old Abdulfatah Hamdallah (pictured), a Sudanese migrant whose body was found on a beach in France earlier this week

They were brought into Dover, Kent, and handed over to immigration officials who will question them.

Their crossing came as French prosecutors investigate the death of a 28-year-old Sudanese migrant whose body was found on a beach in France earlier this week. 

Abdulfatah Hamdallah, initially said to be 16, only made the desperate attempt to cross the Channel to Britain because he was turned down by France.

He died after the 3ft dinghy he and a friend were in was punctured by the shovels they were using as oars.

His friend somehow survived. But Mr Hamdallah, from Sudan, could not swim and his body was later found washed up on a beach at Sangatte. 

Recent attempts by the Government to put a stop to migrant crossings have included asking the armed forces for help and the appointment of a new ‘clandestine Channel threat commander’.

An emotional plea for compassion for migrants crossing the English Channel has been beamed on to the White Cliffs of Dover.

The landmark was lit up with a giant video of NHS cleaner Hassan Akkad, a Syrian refugee who crossed to Britain several years ago.

He highlighted the ‘terrifying and devastating’ journeys that so many people are undertaking to reach the UK by boat, and blamed the Government for using the crisis as a distraction from the coronavirus pandemic.

The giant projection is the latest stunt by Led By Donkeys, a group of activists famed for their giant billboards of politicians’ tweets.

It came as French prosecutors continue to investigate the death of a Sudanese migrant whose body was found on a beach in Calais earlier this week.

Almost 4,900 migrants have successfully crossed to the UK in small boats so far this year, analysis from the PA news agency shows.

In the video, Mr Akkad said: ‘Hello everyone. Apologies for taking over the cliff but I have a few words that I would love to share with you.

‘My name is Hassan and five years ago I was on the other side of this Channel trying to cross here.

‘These cliffs were actually visible from our makeshift camp and they represented hope.’

He said that, like many of those arriving recently, he had to put his trust in a people smuggler because safe and legal asylum routes are unavailable.

He continued: ‘Crossing the sea in a rubber dinghy is terrifying and devastating.

‘Devastating because it makes you feel so helpless and insignificant.

‘And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.’

He argued that Britain is not facing a refugee crisis, but that the migrant crossings are being used as a distraction by the Government.

‘I will say it again – they are using us to distract you from how from how badly they have managed during this pandemic,’ he said.

‘The past few months have proved that the people who made Britain their home didn’t hesitate to roll up their sleeves and keep this country running during the worst public health crisis in modern history.

‘From harvesting our produce to stacking our shelves. From delivering our takeaways to looking after our elderly and sick.

‘From driving our buses to, in my case, cleaning my hospital to help the NHS.

‘The only difference between you and us is luck.’  

Meanwhile, the Government has called on councils to ‘take responsibility’ as it urgently tries to find care for lone migrant children who have crossed the Channel to the UK.

Late on Thursday an emotional plea for compassion for migrants, featuring NHS cleaner Hassan Akkad, was beamed on to the White Cliffs of Dover.

Several crossings in the last week have taken the number of migrants who have reached the UK by small boat this year to more than 5,000.

More than 1,000 others are known to have been intercepted by French authorities as they tried to reach the UK. 

On Thursday eight men were detained and said they were from Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Declared nationalities of migrants intercepted by Border Force have included: Iraqi, Iranian, Sudanese, Yemeni, Syrian, Eritrean, Kuwaiti, Tajikstani, Vietnamese, Guinean, Malian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Afghan, Palestinian, Sri Lankan, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Pakistani, Chadian, Somali, Togolese, Nigerian, Libyan, South Sudanese, Albanian and Chinese.

Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s new clandestine Channel threat commander, returned to France on Thursday to continue discussions with officials in Paris and Calais in a bid to tackle the migrant crossings crisis.

He said: ‘This week’s incident, where a Sudanese migrant lost his life attempting to cross the Channel, served as a tragic reminder of the vital importance of the work the UK and France are engaged in to make this route completely unviable.

‘At meetings I have held in Paris and Calais yesterday there were positive discussions about enhancing operations with increased surveillance, aerial support, further intelligence sharing and patrols in Northern France.

‘I look forward to returning in the coming weeks to progress these discussions.’

Around 10pm on Thursday the famous White Cliffs of Dover were lit up with a giant video of Mr Akkad, a Syrian refugee who crossed to Britain several years ago.

He highlighted the ‘terrifying and devastating’ journeys so many people are making to reach the UK by boat, and blamed the Government for using the crisis as a distraction from the coronavirus pandemic.

The giant projection was the latest stunt from Led By Donkeys, a group of activists famed for their giant billboards of politicians’ tweets.

In the video, Mr Akkad said: ‘Hello everyone. Apologies for taking over the cliff but I have a few words that I would love to share with you.

‘My name is Hassan and five years ago I was on the other side of this Channel trying to cross here.

‘These cliffs were actually visible from our makeshift camp and they represented hope.’

He argued that Britain is not facing a refugee crisis, but the migrant crossings are being used as a distraction by the Government. 

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