The Latest: UK warns about surge of migrant crossings

Migrants look out from the deck of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms rescue vessel, after being rescued Dec. 21, in the Central Mediterranean Sea, before disembarking in the port of Crinavis in Algeciras, Spain, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. To reach Crinavis they have sailed for 6 days with more than 300 migrants on board because other European countries closed their ports to the ship.(AP Photo/Olmo Calvo)

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on migrants and asylum-seekers in Europe (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid says a recent increase in small boats trying to cross from France to England should be treated as a “major incident.”

The Home Office said Friday it is “only a matter of time before people lose their lives” trying to cross the English Channel, which has major commercial shipping lanes and can be very rough in winter.

More than 40 migrants have been found trying to cross the channel in recent days.

Javid held a conference call with Border Force officials, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency.

He is seeking a weekend call with his French counterparts to emphasize the need to keep working together on the problem.


6:30 p.m.

Cyprus authorities say a search in waters between the east Mediterranean island nation and Lebanon for more possible survivors from a capsized boat has been unsuccessful.

The search was mounted after a Syrian man was airlifted to a Cyprus hospital Thursday when the U.S.-flagged merchant ship Safmarine Nimba plucked him from stormy seas some 17 miles off Cyprus’ southeastern coast.

The Syrian man said he was among seven other people aboard a small boat that set sail from Lebanon on Dec. 21. But the boat capsized two days later due to stormy weather.

Cyprus’ Joint Rescue Coordination Center said a search helicopter Friday failed to locate anyone. The center said it’s in touch with vessels in the area to be on the lookout for any survivors.


5:45 p.m.

British Border Forces have intercepted 12 men from Syria and Iran who were trying to get to England in two inflatable boats.

The men were brought ashore at Dover Friday and are being interviewed by immigration officials.

The intervention follows a recent upsurge in small boats trying to cross the English Channel from France to the English shore.

Some 40 migrants were detained trying to transit the channel on Christmas Day, when the perilous trip was made slightly easier because ferry traffic was suspended.

British officials say organized crime gangs are behind the spike in dangerous illegal crossings.


11:45 a.m.

A Spanish aid boat carrying over 300 migrants rescued at sea has arrived in Spain, ending a weeklong journey across the western Mediterranean.

The boat, operated by the nonprofit group Proactiva Open Arms, docked at the Spanish port of Algeciras on Friday.

The boat rescued the migrants in waters near Libya last week, but had to travel to Spain after Malta denied it permission to dock and Italy and other countries refused to help.

In June, Spain opened its ports to another aid ship belonging to SOS Mediterranee Sea and Doctors Without Borders carrying over 600 rescued migrants after Italy and Malta refused to let it dock.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, over 2,200 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year in unseaworthy smugglers’ boats.

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