Young child one of first migrants to arrive in Dover since sinking tragedy

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·2-min read

A family with a young child were among the first migrants to arrive in the UK on Thursday – barely a week after four people died when their migrant boat sank off the coast of France.

The child, aged around four or five, was wrapped up in a hooded coat and life jacket as they were led ashore at Dover on Thursday morning.

With them was what appeared to be their mother, along with others who are believed to have been aboard the same boat that made the journey from France.

The arrivals at the Kent port come as the UK wakes up under lockdown set to last until at least December 2.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
(Left to right) Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, died when their migrant boat sank (Hengaw Organization for Human Rights/PA)

The crossings are believed to be the first since four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family died when their overcrowded boat sank in bad weather last week.

Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, lost their lives along with their children Anita, nine, and Armin, six, in the tragedy.

Their baby son Artin, just 15 months old, was also on board and is missing, presumed dead.

The deaths led to an outpouring of grief and anger at the crisis which has seen thousands make the dangerous crossing to the UK this year.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
One man arriving at Dover was helped into a wheelchair by officials (Gareth Fuller/PA)

But the harrowing incident has not stopped more people trying to make it to Britain, with multiple boats believed to have been launched from the French coast on Thursday morning.

Several Border Force boats were active in the English Channel on Thursday as well as French patrols.

One man arriving at Dover on Border Force patrol boat Speedwell had to be helped ashore by two officials before being seated in a wheelchair.

Those aboard appeared cold and tired as they were led up to dry land.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said: “Thank goodness this family are safe.

“But the UK Government’s failure to provide a safe and legal route to asylum for desperate families that reach Northern France means more will continue to risk their lives to reach the UK.

“Instead of pretending this is a military matter, the Home Secretary would be wise to meet with those who have made this journey, and organisations that understand what’s going on and why, to develop a fair, humane and workable alternative to the small boats”.