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Record number of Channel migrants landing on Christmas Day



A record number of migrants including young children landed at Dover on Christmas Day after crossing the English Channel as people smugglers took advantage of the mild weather.

A total of 67 people believed to be from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan were picked up in the early hours of Christmas morning by the Border Force and Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The migrants, who included three small children, were intercepted after they were spotted in two dinghies in the English Channel after leaving northern France a few hours earlier. The first arrived at the Kent town at about 12.10am and the second shortly after 1am. Another boat was stopped from leaving French waters by French authorities.


The 67 migrants was the highest number to reach the UK on a Christmas Day.

A separate boat with about 35 people on board was brought to safety at Dover at around 11.40pm on Christmas Eve. A baby wearing a woolen hat resembling a penguin was seen being carried by a Border Force official to safety.

Mild weather and fewer patrols could have encouraged crime gangs 

The spate of crossings raises the prospect the organised criminal gangs stepped up their illegal operations because of the relatively mild weather and possibly in the hope that there would be fewer patrols because of the Festive Season.

In 2019, a total of 49 migrants were picked up by the English authorities, with a further 14 returned to France by French authorities. The previous year, 40 migrants successfully made the crossing.

In August this year, people smugglers sent over 1,000 migrants, the biggest crossing in a single day. Of those 800 made it to the UK, with 200 people of them stopped by the French authorities and returned to Northern France.


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