Ninety migrants were picked up by British authorities as part of a large search and rescue operation, according to UK media reports. Most of them were rescued from rubber boats in the waters between France and England.
A total of 90 migrants, including women and children, were detained by British authorities on Thursday. This is the largest number of migrants detained in a single day, in connection to crossing the English Channel.
Most of them were picked up by border control vessels in the Channel from six small inflatable boats. Five people were reportedly also picked up by police in the town center of the English coastal city of Dover, another five on a beach near Dover. Some of those who were rescued in the Channel amid near-freezing weather were treated in ambulances, pictures of the operation show.
Migrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen
15 of the migrants told authorities that they were minors, according to reports by the public broadcaster BBC and other news outlets.
Where did the migrants rescued in the Channel hail from? TV station ITV reported that some of the migrants told authorities that they came from Iran, Iraq, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt.
Apart from the five suspected undocumented migrants arrested in central Dover, all migrants were first medically assessed and then interviewed by immigration officials, Home Office officials said, according to a report by TV news station Sky News.
French authorities reportedly also detained several migrants who attempted to cross the Channel on Thursday, according to newspaper The Guardian.
Crossing the English Channel
The English Channel is part of the Atlantic Ocean, located between England from France. At its narrowest point, between Dover in the UK and Calais in France, it is around 34 kilometers wide. Many migrants are camped out in and around Calais, hoping to eventually make it to the UK. But crossing the Channel in a small boat can be extremely dangerous, in part because it is the busiest shipping lane in the world.
In September 2019, 86 migrants were rescued in the English Channel, the previous record number for migrants picked up by British authorities in connection to Channel crossings.