Two small boat migrants were jailed on Friday for entering the UK illegally after they attacked French police officers in June, the Home Office said.
Salih Taib Abdullah, 33, and Ahmed Omar Saleh Khater, 25, were among a mob who assaulted gendarmes after being caught launching a boat headed for the UK.
The pair pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing to “attempting to arrive in the UK without valid entry clearance,” the Home Office said.
Abdullah, a Kurd from Iraq, was jailed for 14 months while Khater from Sudan received 12 months imprisonment.
The Home Office said a team of UK-funded gendarmes who were on patrol in Oye Plage near Calais came across a group of 51 migrants who were in the process of launching a small boat.
When the gendarmes tried to stop the boat, some migrants turned violent.
A number of them “were armed with makeshift weapons and rocks, causing injuries to the French officers before fleeing on a small boat bound for the UK,” the Home Office said.
Abdullah and Khater were caught on body-worn cameras confronting French officers.
On the same day, a total of 486 illegal immigrants reached Dover on 10 boats, Home Office figures show.
The defendants’ lawyer Kerry Waitt told the court that neither of the “desperate” men had previous convictions, according to The Times of London.
Khater, who has a cousin and an uncle in the UK, came to “seek a better life and treatment,” Mr. Waitt said. “In order to travel to the UK his mother sold her gold. He had to pay £900 for his place on the boat.”
Mr. Waitt also told the court that Abdullah paid $1,200 to get into the UK because he thought the UK was “the safest country in Europe,” the report said.
Charlie Eastaugh, director of international operations for the Small Boats Operational Command in the Home Office, said, “We will not tolerate violence against our French partners, particularly by those attempting dangerous and illegal small boat launches which threaten the border security of the UK.
“Tension on French beaches is increasing due to the successful efforts of law enforcement in frustrating this organised criminal enterprise. Incidents like this highlight the complex and brave work of our French colleagues in the face of challenging conditions.
“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with them to tackle the criminal gangs behind these deadly crossings, to protect our borders and save lives.”
The news came after 872 people reached the UK on small boats on Sept. 2, the highest single-day record seen this year.
Some 210 people made the journey on Friday. This brings the total number of people who have made the journey over the past seven days to 2,188 new arrivals amid a spell of warm weather.
This year so far, 22,289 people have arrived in the UK via the English Channel, which still remains lower than the same date last year when 27,705 people had made the crossing by Sept. 8.
Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of having “completely failed” on his promise to “stop the boats.”
“Despite his victory lap in Dover in June, asylum seekers have been crossing the Channel in their hundreds every single day for a week,” the MP said.
“This embarrassing record shows that gimmicks and headline chasing can never replace the hard graft needed to actually end these dangerous crossings.”
PA Media contributed to this report.