According to the immigration officers’ union, the Border Force has faced a surge in illegal migrants attempting to crossing the Channel after French police scaled back their protection of the coast to divert officers to patrol the coronavirus lockdown.
The Home Office said three boats with 39 suspected illegal migrants on board had been picked up on Thursday morning before the people were landed at Dover wearing facemasks to protect Border Force staff from coronavirus.
The ISU, the union for borders, immigration and customs, suggested there may have been as many as 14 boats on Thursday.
Professional officer at ISU, Lucy Moreton said: “The greatest threat is irregular migration,particularly small boats. The French have withdrawn their police border controls to provide support to the lockdown in the whole of France.”
The Migrant aid charity Care4Calais warned this week that 3,000 migrants living in desperate conditions in northern France are at high risk from coronavirus.
Ms Moreton said the migrants were frequently “not well,” and it was very difficult to find out if they had coronavirus symptoms, which posed major issues for Border Force staff.
She said: “If you are in close proximity to them you should have access to gloves, apron and fluid resistant masks, but it is not practical when you are trying to lift someone from one boat to another,
“There is no way on border force cutters that you can isolate people. The last instruction was to lock them in the engine room but the captain said: ‘No.’ They are so cold that temperature checks won’t work either.”
It is understood that Border Force officials tested the migrants on Thursday for possible cases of coronavirus upon arrival on British soil.
- In the first incident: at around 7.00am Border Force were alerted to a rigid inflatable boat located on the beach at The Warren, Folkestone, where five lifejackets were found but no migrants were located.
- The Second incident: at around 9.30am saw Border Force alerted to a vessel outside the port of Dover, and intercepted 15 migrants, 11 males, 4 females who presented themselves as Iranian nationals
- In the third incident: at around 9.30am, Border Force intercepted a vessel carrying a group of 24 individuals who presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi nationals – seven children were among those intercepted.
According to the Telegraph, Home Office sources were sceptical about the figures and suggested that it had been a calm night on the Channel.
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This content was sourced from Unity News Network.