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Six migrant children rescued from broken-down boat in English Channel

National Navy Archives, France

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent

Six children were rescued from a stricken boat in the English Channel in the dark, early hours of Monday morning.

The engine from their vessel had fallen into the sea and the group of 16 migrants were in difficulty.

They were picked up on radar by French authorities off the coast of Calais.

A refugee charity has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “do right by less fortunate children” as he welcomes his son into the world at Downing Street.

They were among 27 migrants picked up by French patrol ships as they tried to make it to the UK this morning.

More migrants are expected to have been brought ashore in Kent on Monday after Border Force vessels are believed to have been active in the Channel as well.

French authorities announced that they dealt with two boats this morning.

At 4.30am, a patrol boat picked up 16 migrants – including two women and six children.

And at 8:32am, another patrol boat rescued 11 migrants – including four women and a child – and collected their boat.

All 27 were brought to Boulogne-sur-Mer and were handed over to border police.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, told the PA news agency: “That six vulnerable children have been picked up in the English Channel today should prompt soul-searching at the very top of Government.

“As the Prime Minister welcomes a child into the world, will he do right by less fortunate children engaged in perilous sea crossings to seek sanctuary in the UK?

“Government’s strategy to tackle this issue has failed on its own terms and Channel crossings have dramatically increased.

“These dangerous crossings are entirely preventable, if ministers could only start acting like the grown-ups in the room.

“Without safe and legal routes for those fleeing persecution, a preventable tragedy is just a matter of time.”

The Dover straits – the world’s busiest shipping lane – are home to cold and dangerous waters.

But it has not stopped huge numbers of migrants trying to cross to Britain from northern France, despite the ongoing lockdowns in both countries.

Since lockdown began, at least 582 migrants have been brought to the UK, according to data gathered by the PA news agency.

This is more than half of the entire total for 2020, which stands at at least 960 as of Sunday evening.