Britain

Just 6% of migrants who crossed Channel illegally deported by UK

Just 6% of migrants who crossed the Channel illegally on small boats have been deported by the UK since December, Sky News can reveal.

That is in spite of warnings by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that they would be sent back.

There has been a surge in the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats since the end of last year, with then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid describing the illegal crossings as a "major incident".

More than nine months on, Sky News can reveal that very few migrants who successfully made the journey have been returned.

The Home Office has refused to say how many migrants have crossed the Channel from France into the UK on small boats between December 2018 and October this year.

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Sky News has collated data from multiple sources, including police records and local reports of arrivals, and calculated the number to be 1,456.

The Home Office says it has returned "over 85" this year, which means that only around 6% – or one in 17 – have been sent back.

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Masoud Mohammadifar, who is living in asylum accommodation in the West Midlands, says he arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in a canoe which he bought in Calais.

The 39-year-old Iranian, who used to run Iran's national boating team, told Sky News he fled his home country after he was accused of being a western spy.

Image: Masoud Mohammadifar says he crossed the Channel in a canoe

He says he was jailed for six months over the allegation which he faced after simply swapping t-shirts with an American competitor at an international sporting event.

Describing his journey across the Channel with another man, Mr Mohammadifar said: "It was dark and we had nothing to help us find our way in the sea.

"It was really dangerous because of the big ships. A storm was coming. It's difficult to stay stable with a cheap kayak in three metre waves.

"I just prayed for my life, to Jesus Christ to save us.

Masoud Mohammadifar used to run Iran's national boating team
Image: Mr Mohammadifar used to run Iran's national boating team

"We battled through the storm for more than four hours. It was so dangerous. If you fall in you'd never be found."

Sky News has not been able to substantiate his claim but Mr Mohammadifar says French police posed little obstacle to him that night as he began his crossing.

"They had a torch and they followed us," he said.

"I saw the police but they 100% never tried to stop us."

Reza Auoman, a 29-year-old jeweller from Iran, is one of the small number to have been deported from the UK after crossing the Channel illegally but has since returned to claim asylum again.

A couple thought to be migrants are led away by migration officials
Image: The Home Office has warned that crossing the Channel in a small boat is a 'huge risk'

He said: "I entered the UK twice. Both times smugglers put me in a van and took me somewhere.

"I did not see anything. There were no police around. They pushed us into the boat and said 'go'."

Mr Auoman says he was forced to leave Iran after becoming a Christian and claims he would be arrested if he returned home.

"If I am deported again my spirit will be destroyed," he said.

"I came here so that my life would be safe."

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