Three English Channel migrants brought ashore

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BoatImage source, @premarmanche
Image caption,
French authorities said the group were in a semi-rigid vessel

Three migrants spotted in a small boat in the Channel have been brought ashore by the Border Force.

The men were about 10 miles (16.5km) off France when French authorities spotted them after midnight. the Prefecture Maritime de la Manche said.

Border Force officials brought the group ashore at Dover.

Forty migrants, including two children, were rescued on Christmas Day. The Home Office has blamed organised crime, but Dover's MP has demanded action.

Coastguards said they were not involved in the latest incident on Boxing Day.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.

"We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk."

The Home Office said the three rescued by French teams overnight were transferred to UK authorities and brought to Dover.

The group, who presented themselves as Iranian, were medically assessed and passed to immigration officials, the spokesman said.

Those rescued on Christmas Day presented themselves as Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan.

'Incredibly dangerous'

Dover's Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has said the Home Office and National Crime Agency "do not appear to be on top of this situation".

He said: "With well over 100 migrants having broken into Britain in recent weeks they need urgently to explain what they are doing to put a stop to these crossings.

"This is an incredibly dangerous crossing to make in the middle of winter.

"Our volunteer lifeboat crews are being called out nearly every day - even during Christmas.

"The British and French authorities must get a grip and find and stop the traffickers behind these crossings before there is a tragedy in the English Channel."

A statement from the French authorities also warned migrants planning to cross the the Dover-Calais strait - the world's busiest shipping lane - they were endangering lives.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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