More refugees attempt Channel crossing as covid-19 reaches Calais camps

The Canary

At least 52 refugees, including five children, risked their lives to cross the Channel on 2 April.

They were intercepted by Border Force travelling across the Dover straits in four inflatable boats, the Home Office confirmed late on Thursday.

It comes as two cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Calais refugee community and another in a refugee camp in Dunkirk.

Coronavirus
Border Force officers bring to shore men thought to be migrants in Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Despite pictures taken in Dover appearing to show Border Force officials not wearing protective gear, the Home Office reiterated that all operational staff have access to the relevant personal protective equipment (PPE).

Coronavirus
The 52 were originally from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The latest crossings come as French authorities confirm that two cases of covid-19 have been identified in the Calais refugee community.

The Calais Prefecture said the individuals were taken into isolation and that around 20 places have been reserved for refugees who may contract coronavirus.

Up to 3,000 refugees are thought to be living in northern France in desperate conditions where they are at high risk from coronavirus.

Brexit
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais in their warehouse near Calais (Steve Parsons/PA)

Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said Europe is “looking at a humanitarian disaster” if steps are not taken to safeguard the refugee community.

She said: “This is a huge concern because here they can’t put in place the mitigation strategies that people are using elsewhere in Europe.

“They can’t use social distancing, they can’t self-isolate and they can’t wash their hands.

“We urgently need the French state to intervene. We need help and we need it now, otherwise we’re looking at a humanitarian disaster.”

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