Kent

More migrants picked up off Kent coast

Border Force officers with migrants at Dover Image copyright Splash Picture Agency
Image caption Border Force officers took the migrants to Dover for medical checks

Another 23 migrants have been picked up from boats off the Kent coast, bringing the total over the weekend to 39.

A Border Force cutter and a coastal patrol vessel took 15 people from an inflatable late on Sunday and another eight in the early hours of Monday.

All were taken to Dover, where they were given medical checks before being handed over to immigration officials.

Earlier on Sunday 16 migrants - most of whom said they were Iranian - were picked up off the Kent coast.

The Home Office said the nationalities of the people detained in the latest incidents were not yet known.

In the first, at about 23:30 GMT, 15 people were taken off a rigid-hulled inflatable boat and less than four hours later the cutter, HMC Vigilant, and Coastal Patrol Vessel Hunter collected eight more.

The precise locations - and the migrants' genders and ages - were not revealed.

Image copyright Rob Bewick
Image caption An abandoned boat was found on Folkestone's Warren beach on Sunday, one of a number of incidents in a 24-hour period

Earlier on Sunday, migrants had been picked up from boats at three locations along the coast - six at Kingsdown, near Walmer, two in Folkestone and eight off the Dover coast.

There has been a spike in the number of people crossing the English Channel from France in small boats since November.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has declared the situation a "major incident".

On New Year's Eve, he announced two additional Border Force cutters would be brought back to the UK to help deal with the problem but Mr Javid revealed in the Commons on Monday that while naval patrols had been stepped up, the cutters he promised would not be in place until February.

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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