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article imageUK treating rise in migrant Channel crossings as 'major incident'

By AFP     Dec 28, 2018 in World

Britain is treating the spike in migrants trying to cross the Channel in small boats as "a major incident", its interior ministry said on Friday.

The move follows the interception of two more vessels carrying 12 migrants off the southeast English coast -- the latest in a sharp increase in such cases over the Christmas week.

In the latest incidents, eight Iranian men were spotted in a small boat near the busy port of Dover at around 0900 GMT, and brought ashore for medical assessments and immigration interviews.

About six hours earlier, border officials detained a Syrian and three Iranians encountered on a dinghy in a similar area.

Interior Minister Sajid Javid held a conference call Friday with key officials, and has asked for an urgent call with his French counterpart this weekend, according to the ministry.

He has appointed a commander to oversee the response to the incidents and asked for daily updates, it said.

Javid is also assessing whether to deploy additional border enforcement vessels in the Channel amid fears it could encourage more people to try to make the crossing, the ministry added.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes will visit Dover on Saturday to discuss the situation on the ground with border officials.

On Thursday she called the rising number of migrant crossings "deeply concerning", following the discovery of 23 Iranians in three locations in Kent.

Attempts to cross the English Channel -- one of the world's busiest shipping lanes -- have been increasing since October, with authorities on both sides struggling to stop them.

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