People smugglers are offering £435 cut-price ‘Christmas deal’ to ferry migrants across the Channel in dangerously overcrowded boats
- Kurdish gangsters thought to be offering lowest price ever paid to cross Channel
- Lucy Halliday, of Care4Calais, said migrants are paying as little as €500 (£435)
- Comes just days after sinking dinghy in the English Channel led to four deaths
- Rescue operation saw 39 survivors, including 12 children, pulled from the water
People smugglers are offering to ferry migrants across the Channel in dangerously overcrowded boats for less than £500 as a cut-price Christmas deal.
Kurdish gangsters are thought to be offering the lowest price ever charged for entering the UK illegally by boat just days after a sinking dinghy led to four deaths and 39 survivors, including 12 children, being pulled from the freezing water.
Lucy Halliday of the Care4Calais charity told the Mirror that some migrants are paying as little as €500 (£435) to make the treacherous crossing.
She said: ‘The smugglers are taking what they can to fill boats and the lower the price, the more they try to get on board. We know they’re overcrowded.’
People smugglers are offering to ferry migrants across the Channel in dangerously overcrowded boats for less than £500 as a cut-price Christmas deal. Pictured: Migrants carrying a smuggling boat as they prepare to cross the English Channel in October
Ms Halliday accused the British Government of having ‘blood on its hands’, adding: ‘Migrants died because of the Government’s hostile position. Instead of spending £5million on hotels, the Home Office should spend it on clearing the asylum backlog. These are traumatised people being denied their human rights.’
The comments come just four days after a dramatic rescue operation in the English Channel saw 43 asylum seekers plucked from the freezing water after their dinghy sank in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Kurdish gangsters are thought to be offering the lowest price ever charged for entering the UK illegally by boat just days after a sinking dinghy led to four deaths and 39 survivors, including 12 children, being pulled from the freezing water (pictured)
An 11-year-old Afghan boy was among the ‘screaming’ migrants pulled to safety by the crew of fishing boat Arcturus, which was among the first vessels to arrive at the harrowing scene – described by the captain as ‘something from a Second World War movie’.
An investigation into the tragedy by officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, assisted by the National Crime Agency, is underway. The crossing was allegedly orchestrated by a trafficker in France who charged each migrant £5,000.
One Afghan refugee has revealed that he nearly the dinghy which capsized but was stopped by Kurdish smugglers because it was too overcrowded.
The 27-year-old, who claims to have been an army doctor in his homeland, said he and dozens of others made a ten-hour journey by foot to get to a remote beach to make the crossing.
‘I feel lucky I was not on the boat. But I’ll try again,’ he said. ‘I cannot go back to Afghanistan because of the Taliban, I will try to work as a doctor in England.’
The Border Force said they also rescued a further 50 people, five of whom had ended up in the water, after their boat started to sink on the same night.
Yesterday, in the first break in the weather since the tragedy on Wednesday, hundreds of migrants crossed the Channel.
The first arrived in Dover at 3.15am in the Border Force boat Defender which had picked up around 60 migrants.
Two further lifeboats carrying about 45 and 50 migrants arrived before 7am.
It is thought that up to ten fully laden boats arrived.
Lucy Halliday (pictured) of the Care4Calais charity told the Mirror that some migrants are paying as little as €500 (£435) to make the treacherous crossing
On one boat, the migrants had not even been given lifejackets.
A group of up to 12 people, including two 15-year-old boys, were pictured arriving on English soil after being picked up by the RNLI in the English Channel on Saturday.
The group arrived at Dungeness after picked up by the Dungeness lifeboat as they made the crossing in extremely choppy waters.
More than 45,000 migrants have made the perilous journey across the English Channel so far this year – compared to 28,526 in 2021.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced more funding for the NCA – Britain’s version of the FBI – to tackle organised immigration crime in Europe.
NCA director-general Graeme Biggar said of Wednesday’s tragedy: ‘This incident, tragically, highlights the dangers of these crossings, a high percentage of which are facilitated by organised criminal networks.
‘They treat people as a commodity to be profited from and think nothing of putting them in incredibly dangerous situations. Working with our partners on both sides of the Channel we are determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice.’
A group of up to 12 people were safely brought ashore by the RNLI after being sent into choppy waters by criminal people-smuggling gangs
Among the small group rescued on Saturday were two 15-year-old boys
The NCA is also involved in the French probe into the deaths of at least 27 migrants in the Channel last year.
Meanwhile, a senior retiring army officer is to take charge of the Government’s new unit being launched next year in a bid to crack down on Channel crossings.
Major General Duncan Capps, a former head of the army training college at Sandhurst, will take on the role of clandestine Channel threat commander from Daniel O’Mahoney who is standing down after two-and-a-half-years, it is understood.
Considered by officials to be an extremely experienced leader, Mr Capps, who retires as an army officer this month, will head up the ‘small boats operational command’ unveiled by the Prime Minister earlier this week as part of a raft of new measures in a bid to grip the migrant crisis.
The ‘permanent, unified’ unit will bring together military and civilian staff alongside the National Crime Agency (NCA) to coordinate ‘intelligence, interception, processing, and enforcement’, Rishi Sunak told MPs.
Migrants, picked up at sea attempting to cross the English Channel, are helped ashore from an RNLI lifeboat, at Dungeness on December 9
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (pictured) announced more funding for the NCA – Britain’s version of the FBI – to tackle organised immigration crime in Europe
The move means control of the operation is being handed back to the Home Office at the end of January after then prime minister Boris Johnson put the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in charge in April.
But officials – who are keen to stress the shift will mark a fundamentally different approach to tackling crossings – anticipate some ongoing military support will still be needed.
Some 730 additional Border Force staff will be hired to work as part of the command, although some may be seconded from places like the MoD and NCA.
Around 100 of those will work in the London headquarters – split across the Home Office and the NCA – while the remainder will be frontline staff, based mostly in Dover but also in Manston in Kent.
But it could take up to a year for the teams to be in post as a result of the time the recruitment process and training will take.
The MailOnline has contacted the Home Office for comment.
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