More than 80 stowaways arrive at port

GOVERNMENT ministers today revealed 86 stowaways have arrived at Britain's biggest port so far this year - slightly less than in the previous 12 months.

GOVERNMENT ministers today revealed 86 stowaways have arrived at Britain's biggest port so far this year - slightly less than in the previous 12 months.

It means 400 illegal immigrants have arrived at Felixstowe in the past five years - after a period when numbers were reported to have fallen on previous high levels.

In total 5,167 illegal immigrants have been found at UK ports and airports so far this year

Port sources at Felixstowe said the number this year was about average and it was inevitable with the numbers of ships coming and going that there would be some stowaways.


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The source said: “In a port this size with ships coming in from all over the world, there will always be stowaways.

“Years ago there was a kind of romantic feel about someone stowing away on a boat, but today it is very different - hiding away on a modern container ship is not easy, it's dangerous and difficult to do.

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“There is nothing glamorous about it and those people who do it are very desperate, running away from war and poverty and hoping to find a better life.”

The figures were given to the House of Commons by Home Office minister Liam Byrne, who said that between January and December 1 there had been 86 immigrants found on board ships berthed at Felixstowe.

Last year there was a total of 99 for the year.

It is not known what has happened to the stowaways. It is understood most claimed political asylum but the government has not said whether they were allowed to stay or were deported.

In the late 1990s, there were more than 500 immigrants being found every year on ships arriving at Felixstowe, many Turkish Kurd refugees fleeing their country for a new life in Britain.

There were also large numbers of Albanian refugees from crisis-torn Yugoslavian province of Kosovo. Most were single males aged between 18 and 25, though there were also some families.

But since then numbers were believed to have dwindled - and so far there is no clear reason why numbers should have risen again.

No-one was available to comment from the Immigration Service.

Do you think Britain's immigration laws need to be reviewed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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