Near freezing temperatures do not prevent 271 people from crossing the English Channel

Near-zero temperatures in the English Channel on Thursday did not prevent dozens of people from making the dangerous crossing from France.

A young child bundled up in an orange life jacket and wearing a beanie was among at least 271 people who made the trip in 10 small boats.

Border Force and the RNLI were busy in the cold Strait of Dover from 1am as calm conditions prompted a flurry of attempts to reach the UK.

The 271 people known to have arrived in Kent, confirmed by the Home Office on Thursday evening, is more than the full tally for January last year.

More than 450 people have made the deadly journey across the English Channel in small boats so far after a record year in 2021.

EDITOR’S NOTE The faces of the children have been pixelated as the PA Picture Desk was unable to obtain permission to photograph a child under the age of 16 over matters concerning his or her welfare (Gareth Fuller /AP)

(PA wire)

Commenting on the day’s arrivals, Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights director at Amnesty International UK, said: “People who make these perilous sea crossings do so out of desperation, mainly because it there are no safe and legal ways to seek asylum. in this country, and many have family and other ties here.

“Ministers should stop shirking their responsibility for refugees.

“For example, it is misleading, if not almost cruel, for ministers and civil servants to say that France is a ‘safe country’ when many people who are perfectly entitled to seek asylum in Britain are trapped in miserable and dangerous conditions in camps in the north of France.

“The UK and French governments should prioritize human resources to fulfill their shared duty to provide asylum.”

Last week it was announced that Border Force officials could take industrial action against Priti Patel’s plans to turn dinghies back into the English Channel.

The Syndicat des services publics et commercials (PCS), whose members include around 80% of the border force agents who would be in charge of implementing the “refoulements”, and the charity Care4Calais have filed an application for judicial review of the pushback policy.

Despite the Home Secretary’s pledge to make crossings an “infrequent phenomenon” by spring 2020, more than 36,000 people have managed to reach the UK in the past two years.