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Saturday: Up to 230 migrants crossed the Channel in seven boats


Up to 230 migrants have crossed the English Channel on the morning of the 1st May after an eleven day hiatus in what was being claimed as an early victory for the Government's new scheme for sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.

UK officials, including a Border Force vessel, escorted seven small boats of men, women and children into Dover Harbour, Kent.

The last migrants to arrive at Dover in Kent were a total of 263 across seven small boats on April 19 - and Ministry of Justice data revealed not a single adult or child made it across since. 

It comes amid a new strategy to deal with Channel migrants launched on April 14 which saw the military take charge of attempts to control crossings with a joint task force drawn from the Navy, Army and Air Force in Kent. 

This week, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen prematurely claimed that the drop to zero was evidence that Home Secretary Priti Patel's scheme, which will see asylum seekers sent 4,000 miles to claim refugee status from Rwanda, is 'working already'.

Up to 300 military servicemen, Navy ships and surveillance drones are being deployed to the Channel after the Armed Forces took control with the Navy assuming Border Force's responsibility for intercepting migrant boats.

An RAF Wildcat helicopter is now the key military asset in the air and is being used to carry out a final 'sweep' of the Channel at the end of each day to ensure all migrants - and their dinghies - have been recovered.

The helicopter is being aided by RAF drones operated out of Lydd Airport in Kent. Soldiers and airmen are also now being based at Dover to help UK Border Force staff with initial processing, and the military are able to issue directions to civilian staff of the UK Border Force, whose ships are remaining part of the Channel taskforce.

Seven ships including HMS Tyne, plus smaller boats and a helicopter are being made available to patrol the sea and coastline, so Border Force staff can be freed up for processing migrants once they arrive on land.

More than 6,500 migrants are thought to have arrived in the UK this year so far after crossing the Channel. In 2021 some 28,526 migrants reached UK shores aboard dinghies and small boats - up from 8,417 in 2020.

The total number of migrants arriving so far this month has been 2,143 across 58 small boats, although the final day of arrivals to the present date was on April 19 when 263 were intercepted across seven small boats.