Newborn baby rescued after nine hours at sea – as migrant says French police watched them leave


A newborn baby has been rescued by the RNLI after surviving a nine-hour journey across the Channel made by a group of migrants on Saturday.

Sky News witnessed the newborn girl, named Ayyan and wrapped in a blanket, being handed to a police officer on the shore in Dungeness, Kent, after making the potentially treacherous journey.

Asked by Sky News if French police tried to stop them, one man who could speak some English said: “No, they don’t say anything.” He also said officers watched them leave.

Record numbers of migrants have landed on the Kent coast this year
Record numbers of migrants have landed on the Kent coast this year

The man also translated for the baby girl’s mother, who said Ayyan was doing well and that she too was pleased to have arrived in Britain – prepared to risk her own safety and that of her child to get to England for “the best life”.

Ayyan is believed to be between two weeks and a month old.

Sky News correspondent Ivor Bennett said: “There was exhaustion and elation in equal measure.

“After nine hours at sea, their treacherous journey was finally over. Several of the migrants were shivering as they were helped off the lifeboat on to Dungeness’s shingle beach.

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Sky News witnesses people attempting to reach the UK’s shores while French police fail to intervene.

“Those who did speak said they were from Iraq and Iran, including one man who said it was his “dream” to live here. Some were missing coats and even shoes, a few were soaked.

“The most arresting image of all – a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket. The little girl is just 16 days old and yet she has experienced a journey few can comprehend.

“Her mother, almost too weary to speak, told me her name is Ayyan. Why risk her child’s life to reach these shores? Because ‘England has the best life’.”

Migrants arrive on the beach at Dungeness
Migrants arrive on the beach at Dungeness

Sky News filmed dozens of people arriving in the UK on Saturday, as the French interior minister announced plans to visit Calais to inspect efforts in the fight against illegal immigration in the Channel.

The Home Office has said it will raise the footage with French counterparts – after the UK signed a £54m deal with France to increase patrols back in July.

It has described the record rise in migrant crossings to the UK over the Channel this year as “unacceptable”.

Locals have expressed anger at “how easy” it is to cross the Channel into the UK as record numbers land on the Kent coast this year.

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