From File: Border Force bring in a boat used by migrants to cross the Channel at Dover Harbor in the UK | Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
From File: Border Force bring in a boat used by migrants to cross the Channel at Dover Harbor in the UK | Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

A child and four adults were discovered hiding on board a ship bound for Dover on April 4, reported the British press. The suspected migrants reportedly told emergency services they were from Morocco.

On Sunday evening, April 4, the emergency services in the British county of Kent were called to the port of Dover after reports emerged of five stowaways found on board a vessel docking in the port. The people found reportedly included one child and five adults.

"This is an ongoing incident," said a spokesperson for Kent Police to the regional online portal in the UK KentOnline at the time. Police, ambulance and fire services were called to Dover’s Western Docks, according to KentOnline.

'Moroccan nationals'

The British national broadcaster BBC also reported the incident, adding that the South East Coast Ambulance Service confirmed it had been called out at 11:30 pm on Sunday evening. The ship, they said, had already berthed but after the discovery of the six migrants who presented themselves as "Moroccan nationals", the emergency services continued searching the boat.

The British government’s Home Office (Interior Ministry) told the BBC that all five migrants were "fit and healthy."

This is not the first time that stowaways have been found on commercial vessels arriving in Britain this year. In February, the Daily Mail reported that seven Albanian stowaways were found "on board a cargo ship bound for Dorset," further south west of Dover.

Arrested for immigration offenses

On that occasion, the Albanians, reported the Daily Mail, were arrested "for immigration offenses." That ship had loaded in Rouen France a week earlier and had previously been in "Algeria, Tunisia, the US and Mexico," wrote the Daily Mail.

In the case of the five found in Kent over Easter, no comment was made about whether or not they had been taken into custody or charged with an offense.

However, the UK government has vowed to crack down on those who attempt to reach Britain via illegal means, blocking them from receiving permanent residency, even if they are found to have a valid case for asylum and saying it would be difficult for them to claim for schemes like family reunification, or even have access to some benefits.

UK new immigration policy

It is still unclear whether the government’s new policy is already being applied to all those arriving. So far, in 2021, more than 1,000 people have managed to cross the Channel, and more than 8,000 made the crossing last year, reports the BBC.

French authorities continue to report several incidents a week of boats found near the French coast that didn’t make it across. With checks increasing around the Calais and Boulogne areas, at the shortest crossing point, some in France are wondering if migrants will begin attempting the journey from French beaches further south, thus involving a longer crossing and even more danger.

Last week, the BBC reported that "more than 200 migrants were intercepted," on their journey across the Channel to the UK. In March, a record number of people for 2021 made it across the Channel in just one day, spread across several boats.

 

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