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Kent ‘days away’ from being unable to look after any more migrant children as boats cross Channel for tenth day in a row

KENT is “days away” from being unable to look after any more migrant children as boats cross the Channel for the tenth day in a row. 

Hundreds of unaccompanied children have made the dangerous journey from France this year – with more than 70 arriving in August so far.

Kent County Council fears it will soon reach care capacity as centres are filling up “very, very fast”. 

Council leader Roger Gough said arrivals this month could exceed 100 – a monthly figure not seen since the last major migrant crisis in 2015.

He added: “One (centre) which we actually emptied last week and which we reopened on Saturday, we are now almost full already.

“So this is the pace at which events are moving. The real question is what we can do to sustain that reception for those young people if the arrivals continue at the rate they do and we are unable to place those children with other local authorities.

“I think we are now potentially days away, depending on the rate of arrivals, from turning around and having to say we cannot deliver all our statutory responsibilities and that is going to be a major step for the council.”

Adult migrants and families arriving on Kent’s shores are sent to other parts of the country, but Mr Gough said the council retains responsibility for unaccompanied children. 

Today migrants arrived in Dover for an unprecedented tenth day in a row.

People in lifejackets and masks were brought into the harbour aboard a Border Force patrol boat before being taken ashore by officials.

They were also assessed for coronavirus symptoms, as is protocol. 

Favourable weather in the English Channel has made the crossing possible for hundreds of migrants over the last 10 days, with 71 arriving aboard six boats on Wednesday. 

Numbers peaked on August 6 when 235 made it to the UK – a single-day record. 

But Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to make the route “unviable”.

She has warned France that the UK will not cough up millions of pounds for anti-migrant patrols unless it agrees to take back more refugees. 

Ms Patel told Tory MPs the asylum system is “broken” as she promised to introduce laws that would “send the left into meltdown”, The Times reported on Thursday.

She said the system was being “exploited by leftie Labour-supporting lawyers” who were doing everything they could to stop the Government removing people.

Shadow Secretary of State for Justice David Lammy said the “leftie lawyers” comments were “extremely distasteful”.

He added: “Caricaturing an entire profession, which is subject to a code of conduct and upholds the rule of law, is dangerous and unbecoming of a serious Home Secretary.”

The Government has asked for military assistance, which so far has taken the form of two RAF planes.

But proposals to send armed forces to the English Channel to deal with small boat crossings have come under fire from France.

Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said sending the Royal Navy into the English Channel to deal with migrant crossings is a “declaration of maritime war”.

And the Government’s handling of migrant crossings also came under fire from Labour, which accused it of lacking “competence and compassion”.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said on Wednesday that it had resulted in thousands risking their lives in dangerous waters.

In a letter to Ms Patel, he said ministers must provide solutions rather than “empty headlines” to tackle the issue.

Ms Patel’s newly appointed Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, Dan O’Mahoney, said: “These crossings are dangerous and unnecessary and I am determined to stop them.

“The minister and I met with French officials in Paris on Tuesday for discussions on how to advance joint working on making the small boats route for illegal migration unviable.

“We will continue to go after the heinous criminals and organised crime networks putting people’s lives at risk.”

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