Pregnant woman among over 31 irregular migrants rescued in English Channel

Thirty-one migrants, including a pregnant woman and two young children, came into difficulty while attempting to cross the English Channel irregularly on 29 December 2019. They were all rescued and taken for medical treatment.

French coastguard authorities rescued the two young children, along with nine other migrants, after the engine of their small boat failed, leaving them stranded at sea. They were found off the coast near Calais early on the morning of 29 December 2019, according to the UK Home Office. 

The pregnant woman was attempting to cross the Channel with 19 other people when their boat started taking in water. The same patrol boat found them off the coast near Dunkirk.

All the rescued migrants were taken to the French port where they were assessed by a medical team and met by border officials. Some required treatment for hypothermia. 

As well as the two boats that ran into trouble, a number of other vessels were intercepted in the Channel in December. On 26 December, 49 migrants from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan were found by border control officials and taken to British shores. A further 79 were intercepted on 4 December and 69 on 17 December. 

Over the course of 2019, over 1,800 migrants are suspected to have reached the UK in small boats. Of these 1,800, over 125 have been returned to European countries so far. 

These figures reflect the intensified efforts from France and the UK to curb irregular migration in the English Channel. The UK Home Office pointed out in late December that patrolling on the French coast had increased, and that more drones and specialist equipment had been deployed.

A statement from the Home Office said: “Illegal migration is a criminal activity. Those who seek to come to the UK unlawfully and the ruthless criminals who facilitate journeys are all breaking the law and endangering lives.”

TMP – 07/01/2020

Photo credit: Susan Pilcher /

Photo caption: Folkestone, Kent, United Kingdom – February 24th 2019: UK Border Force coastal patrol vessel, Alert returning to Folkestone Harbour after being involved in operations to bring migrants ashore