'Jungle' migrant picked up kayaking towards UK

An asylum seeker has made it to within eight miles of the UK coastline in an inflatable kayak. 

The Iranian man is understood to have been spotted by a cross-channel ferry late last week. 

A vessel from the UK border force was dispatched and picked up the man. It is understood he immediately claimed asylum. 

Although there have been isolated incidents of boats containing a number of migrants making it to UK waters, this is believed to be the first instance of a man attempting to make the 20-mile crossing alone in a kayak.

Sources have told Sky News that the man had been living in the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais until it was demolished last week. 

Believed to be about 30 years old, he told people in the jungle that he was a software engineer before he had left Iran. 


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Sky News understands he claims to have converted to Christianity in Iran and was persecuted as a consequence. The details of his persecution are not known. 

He is now being detained at an immigration centre in Croydon, South London and is being assessed by immigration officials.

They will first try to establish if he is genuinely an Iranian. This can be done through a set series of questions and language tests carried out by experts. 

They will also try to establish if he has been to the UK before or if he has applied for a British visa from any UK embassy around the world. And they will cross-check EU databases to see if he has tried to claim asylum elsewhere in Europe. 

If his claim is rejected, he faces potential deportation, but that process if fraught with difficulty as some countries of origin refuse to take failed asylum seekers back, raising the question of what to do with them.

Some – but by no means all – are known to abscond into an illegal limbo.

However, in this particular case, given his nationality and his religion, it is likely the claim will be accepted if authorities are content that he is telling the truth.

The jungle was cleared in a week long operation which concluded on Monday

More than 6,000 adult migrants were taken by bus to official asylum centres around France where their asylum claims will be assessed. 


Irish Defence Forces carry out a training exercise on a ferry
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However, an unknown number did not register for the buses to the asylum centres. Some went to Paris, where the number of migrants in unofficial street camps has increased by a third.

Others, like the Iranian man, may have attempted to enter the UK either by boat or by truck. 

Up to 1,500 unaccompanied minors – those under 18 – remain in the vicinity of the jungle. They are being housed in a purpose built container zone while plans are put in place for their future. 

Although many are clearly under 18, a proportion could be lying about their age as no proper checks have yet taken place. 

At the weekend, a diplomatic dispute between the UK and France was prompted after President Francois Hollande told Theresa May that it was the UK’s ‘moral duty’ to take its ‘fair share’ of the 1,500 still in Calais. In response, the UK said it would make no commitments to taking more minors. 

On Tuesday lunchtime, leaflets were distributed by the French authorities stating that buses will take everyone to asylum centres around France on Wednesday. 

The leaflet, in several languages, read: “Underage children from the temporary accommodation centre will be leaving by bus for juvenile centres all over France, where their applications to be transferred to the UK will be dealt with by the British authorities.

“No further applications for transfer to the UK will be dealt with in Calais…. British authorities will be accompanying you on your journey.”

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