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Sajid Javid to hold crisis talks over perilous Channel crossings



The home secretary has admitted that many of the factors behind the increase in migrants attempting to reach the UK by boat are “outside of our control”.

Sajid Javid will chair a meeting with the Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Whitehall officials today to discuss what action can be taken to end the crisis.

Border officials on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent
Border officials on the beach in Kent after six men crossed the Channel on Sunday

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he described the rise in perilous attempts to cross the English Channel as “deeply concerning” – and vowed that the government “will not stand by and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable in our global society”.

Describing the threats migrants face, Mr Javid wrote: “The weather conditions are often treacherous and the inflatable boats being used are woefully ill-equipped to make such a dangerous journey.

“The migrants who choose to make the journey are putting their lives in grave danger.”

:: Penniless African migrants angry as Iranians cross Channel

'Risky' time for migrants to travel


‘This is why migrants are coming ashore’

Later in the article, he added: “Organised crime gangs are targeting and profiteering from these vulnerable and often desperate people who want to come to the UK.”

Almost 100 migrants are believed to have travelled from France to the UK in dinghies and other small vessels over the Christmas period – and the rise in journeys has been fuelled by instability in the Middle East, organised crime and tighter security at Calais.

Mr Javid has described France’s response to the recent incidents as “swift and thorough”.

:: Why are more migrants trying to cross the Channel?

Suspected migrants arrive in dinghy on Kent beach


Suspected migrants met by officials

On Sunday, six Iranian men were detained after arriving on a beach in Kent – prompting patrols to be stepped up along the South East coast.

Each of the men were given a medical assessment before being transferred to immigration officials for processing.

On Friday, two boats carrying 12 men from Syria and Iran were brought to shore – and 40 migrants were detected making the crossing on Christmas Day.

There are fears it is only a matter of time before there is a migrant death in the Channel from a capsized dinghy.


Migrants ‘angry’ as they wait patiently to reach UK

Mr Javid also held a “significant and productive” phone call with French interior minister Christophe Castaner on Sunday to agree moves to deter further small boat crossings, during which they confirmed plans to have a face-to-face meeting in January.

Mr Castaner is understood to have described to Mr Javid how French officials dismantled an organised criminal gang earlier in December, which had been trafficking people through France.

Ahead of Mr Javid’s cross-government meeting, the NCA warned that more “highly dangerous” attempts by migrants to reach the UK are likely – and said tackling organised criminal gangs is an “operational priority”.

Caroline Nokes has warned increasing patrols could be a 'magnet' for migrants
Caroline Nokes has warned increasing patrols could be a ‘magnet’ for migrants

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the UK’s armed forces “stand ready” if needed to prevent further crossings.

Mr Javid has faced pressure from some Conservative backbenchers, including Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, who has called for Border Force cutters to be brought back from operations in the Mediterranean to patrol the Channel.

Although Mr Elphicke said he welcomed the home secretary taking “personal responsibility for the situation”, he warned “more needs to be done as a matter of urgency” – including “the immediate return to France of people found making illegal crossings”.

However, immigration minister Caroline Nokes has warned that deploying more resources could act as a “magnet” and prompt further attempted crossings.

Home secretary Sajid Javid is due to publish a long-delayed white paper on immigration.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a ‘major incident’ on Friday

On Sunday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the UK has “a duty to reach out the hand of humanity, support and friendship to people who are in danger and seeking a place of safety”.

Meanwhile, writing in the Sunday Mirror, Diane Abbott attacked Mr Javid’s “flawed” response to the attempted crossings, adding: “While the Tories wax lyrical about control of our borders and being tough on security, they cannot seem to get a grip on criminal smugglers operating on a few hundred miles of coastline, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.”

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