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UK to hold talks with France after spike in migrant Channel crossings

AFP  |  London 

Britain's interior minister will hold talks with her French counterpart "in the coming days" after dozens of migrants were detained crossing the Channel in four separate incidents on Thursday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to raise the issue with France's interior minister Christophe Castaner following the interception of 37 migrants -- including six children -- near England's south coast.

All of the individuals have been taken to the port town of Dover, where they are being medically assessed ahead of interviews with immigration officials, according to the interior ministry.

Meanwhile, French coastguards rescued 24 migrants including seven minors overnight off the northern city of Dunkirk.

The recent spike in crossings was encouraged by "milder weather conditions", according to French maritime officials.

"We continue to monitor the ongoing situation and are working closely at all levels with French authorities on the issue," a spokesman for the British interior ministry said in a statement.

"The Home Secretary will raise this issue with her French counterpart in the coming days."

The first interception on Thursday occurred around 2:30 am (0130 GMT), when a Border Force vessel encountered eight men and a woman -- all Iranian -- aboard a small boat, according to British interior ministry sources.

A second vessel containing nationals of Iran, Guinea, Kuwait and the Ivory Coast, and included two children, was then found several hours later.

Border Force vessels then discovered two more small boats all with Iranians on board, including four children, later Thursday morning.

The spokesman reiterated warnings that crossing the Channel in small boats is "a huge risk".

"The criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life," he said.

Britain currently has three Border Force cutters in the Channel.

Since January, the country has returned to Europe more than 65 people who arrived illegally in small boats, the interior ministry said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 23 2019. 16:30 IST
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