A spokesperson for the Home Office has confirmed that nine migrants of Albanian origin were rescued from an inflatable boat off the coast of Kent earlier today.
It has been reported in local media that eight men and one woman on the vessel were taken ashore by the coastguard, and they are now in the hands of the UK Border Force.
In a statement, they said:
“At 5.30am this morning, Border Force received a call from The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) after concerns were raised about a small boat off the coast of East Sussex.
“The MCA launched a search and rescue operation with the RNLI to locate the boat.
“It was found and is now in Eastbourne Harbour where the nine people on board, who presented themselves as being from Albania, are being dealt with by Border Force.
“The group consisted of eight men and one woman and they will be processed in line with immigration rules.
“An investigation led by the National Crime Agency is now underway.”
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke added: “This underlines yet again the extreme lengths people will go to, risking their lives trying to break into Britain.
“Crossing the English Channel in a small inflatable boat during winter is about as dangerous as it gets.
“We know more migrants are returning to Calais following recent comments by President Macron.
“This is why we must be more vigilant than ever and protect our borders.”
It was originally reported that the vessel got into difficulty around 20 miles off the coast of Dungeoness.