Migrant mothers are throwing their babies into the Channel to be rescued by RNLI crews, says boss of lifeboat charity, as figures show more than 37,000 people have made the crossing from France so far this year
- Desperate migrants are tossing their babies overboard to volunteer rescuers
- RNLI boss Simon Ling says women are going to extreme lengths for their babies
- Some 37,000 people have risked their lives making the crossing so far this year
- Revelation comes amid footage of harrowing rescue of Afghan teen, 14
Desperate mothers attempting to cross the English Channel on dinghies are tossing their babies across the ocean to rescue crews in an effort to ensure they’re saved.
Simon Ling, the head of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, said on Wednesday volunteer crew members are faced with ‘chaotic’ and ‘distressing’ scenes every single day at sea.
The revelation comes after harrowing footage was released of a 14-year-old Afghan girl drifting in and out of consciousness during a rescue attempt.
In the helmet footage, a RNLI volunteer shouts: ‘This is serious, one person is not breathing.’
Nearly 37,000 people are now known to have risked their lives making treacherous crossing so far this year, including 502 on Tuesday alone.
Simon Ling, the head of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, revealed desperate mothers attempting to cross the English Channel on dinghies are tossing their babies across the ocean to rescue crews in an effort to ensure they’re saved
More footage from the same incident shows a woman holding a tiny baby above her head as she made her way to rescue crews.
Mr Ling told the BBC his crew – comprised primarily of volunteers – ‘often see women and children huddling in the middle of the boats, men sitting on [the] side’.
‘It’s very chaotic with screaming and panic, mothers holding up babies and in some cases throwing the babies at our lifeboat crew to catch, such is the level of distress.’
Mr Ling said the volunteers ‘understand the potential human cost’ and leave behind their own families each time their pagers go off to rush to the aid of others.
‘We are accustomed to seeing spikes in activity around our coast throughout the summer months, partly as a result of new trends in water use but seeing year-round increases in launches and the potential impact these types of rescues have on our crew’s emotional wellbeing is not something the RNLI has been faced with before.’
The ‘constant exposure’ to such distress affects the rescuers, who are given trauma support but sometimes decide they ‘no longer want to volunteer’, Mr Ling said.
The charity has an attrition rate of between 5% and 10%, he added. ‘Volunteering is very difficult, that’s across all of the RNLI.’
Nigel Farage controversially claimed last year that the RNLI was running a ‘taxi service for migrants’, adding it was ‘to the dismay of all involved’.
The footage captured on the helmet cameras of the volunteer crew of the Dover RNLI lifeboat station is from a call out earlier this year
The RNLI defended helping Border Force tackle the migrant crisis, saying it was ‘humanitarian work of the highest order’.
Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: ‘The people of these islands (the UK) fundamentally are decent people, and all decent people will see this as humanitarian work of the highest order.
‘Our crews should not have to put up with some of the abuse they received.’
However, it was then claimed the charity was having to delay other rescue work because of the number of migrants it is now picking up in the Channel.
On Tuesday 502 people made the crossing in 12 separate incidents, according to officials.
The latest arrivals takes the number intercepted in small boats in the Channel so far this year to 36,965 in 911 boats, according to official government figures compared to 28,526 in 2021.
In October alone there has been 3,964 people detained after making the treacherous voyage in 87 boats.
The Home Office confirmed 11 Albanians were sent home on a charter plane last week as part of a pilot scheme.
When the migrants arrived from northern France earlier this month they were taken to a former RAF airbase at Manston, Kent, which is being used to process Channel migrants.
It is understood they refused to claim asylum and, as a result, were told by immigration officers that they were liable for immediate removal.
Harrowing video shows migrants in orange life jackets being pulled to safety on the deck of a lifeboat from a flimsy dinghy in the middle of the sea
The latest arrivals takes the number intercepted in small boats in the Channel so far this year to 36,965 in 911 boats, according to official government figures compared to 28,526 in 2021
The development – which could mark a major breakthrough in tackling the Channel crisis – came seven weeks after former home secretary Priti Patel secured a landmark deal with her Albanian counterpart for a ‘rapid removal’ scheme.
Although that project has not yet been finally ratified it is believed renewed cooperation with the Tirana government played a role in the removal of the 11 Albanians.
The number of Albanians arriving across the Channel surged at the start of the summer. They now make up 60 per cent of arrivals from northern France.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We urge anyone who is thinking about leaving a safe country and risking their lives at the hands of people smugglers to urgently reconsider. Despite the lies they have been sold, they will not be allowed to start a new life here.’
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