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UK News

Exhaustion for migrants as they complete final part of their perilous journey across Channel

today20/07/2021

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Sky News has witnessed a group of migrants, crowded on to a small inflatable boat, arriving on a Kent beach – as nearly 300 people used the good weather to cross the Channel from France.

287 made the journey on Tuesday, bringing the total who have made it across the strait in small boats this year to at least 8,452, surpassing the 2020 overall figure, according to data by the PA news agency.

On Monday, at least 430 migrants, including women and young children, reached the UK – a new record.

One group landed in front of Sky News cameras at Dungeness, Kent, and we were able to speak to some of them as they were questioned and processed by Border Force officials.

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Suspected migrants land in Dungeness

The majority had come from Eritrea and Iran, including one man who said he’s spent two months travelling to get to the UK.

Some 30 men, plus women and children had crossed the 21-mile Dover strait in red and black dinghies.

A family of six was among them.

More on Kent

They had no possessions – just the clothes on their backs and the life jackets they discarded when they landed. The dinghies were left abandoned on the beach, having served their purpose.

As they were processed, they were asked for their names, ages and nationalities. It’s a familiar routine for the Border Force officials, who have been doing this almost every day as the stream of migrants crossing the Channel remains constant.

People thought to be migrants make their way up the beach after arriving on a small boat at Dungeness in Kent. Picture date: Monday July 19, 2021.
Image: People arrive at Dungeness, Kent, after crossing the Channel

We may be identifying a surge in people making the journey – with a new record for daily crossings made this week – but for officials here it’s become normal.

When asked about this rush of people making it ashore given the hot weather, a policeman commented: “It never stopped”. Kent Police and Border Force are used to working together on this.

Image: For many, making the journey is their chance for a new beginning

Children could be heard playing inside the RNLI centre, as they sheltered from the scorching heat. It is unlikely that they will remember much from this day but will nonetheless be reminded of the sacrifice made by their parents, who are yearning for a better life.

One man, who made the journey from Eritrea, came to Kent on his own and said he feels happy to be here and another from Iran said he is “really happy” despite being unsure of his plan now.

“I have a lot of things to do, first I have a family to feed. I came here to continue my education,” he said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is attempting to crack down on these illegal journeys. She has signed an agreement with France’s interior minister, with the UK pledging a further €62.7m (£54.1m) to support France’s efforts to tackle illegal immigration.

But people are expected to keep making the perilous trips as long as the British shores symbolise hope and new beginnings.

Image: Home Secretary Priti Patel is attempting to crack down on illegal journeys

This is the final destination after months of travelling, and some looked relieved to be here but others were frightened and exhausted.

A few people could be seen basking in the sunshine resting after the perilous journey before boarding coaches bound for a processing centre.

They’ve left everything behind and have got many more stages to go in the asylum system, but their relief is clear to see.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News


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