Deadliest Channel refugee tragedy raises alarm in France, UK News

Britain and France are considering new measures to limit migration across the English Channel and break people-trafficking networks, as at least 27 refugees and migrants – including three children and a pregnant woman – travel along the northern French coast. drowned.

Wednesday’s DisasterThe deadliest accident on the route has raised humanitarian concerns since the International Organization for Migration (IOM) channel began collecting channel data in 2014.

A protest will take place outside the United Kingdom’s Home Office in London on Thursday under the banner “No More Channel Deaths”.

President Emmanuel Macron promised that France would not allow the Channel to become a “cemetery” and spoke to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to agree to step up efforts to thwart smugglers blamed for the increase in the crossing.

His office said Prime Minister Jean Casteux would hold a crisis meeting with ministers on Thursday to discuss the new measures.

Seventeen men, seven women and three children were killed on Wednesday when a flying boat capsized and flooded the northern port of Calais, according to public prosecutors in Lille. The murder investigation has been started.

The IOM says nearly 200 refugees and migrants have died while making the dangerous journey so far this year.

Disaster presented a new challenge Cooperation Early statements from both sides between France and Britain after Brexit placed the onus on the other side to act, indicating that the tragedy would not be an automatic catalyst for cooperation. in September, Britain threatened To send migrant boats back to France.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmin said a total of five suspected smugglers had been arrested who are accused of being directly linked to the wrecked crossing, with the fifth man suspected of buying inflatable boats.

Darmanin said two survivors, an Iraqi and a Somali, who had recovered from hypothermia, had been traced and would eventually be interrogated.

Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchert said a pregnant woman was among the victims.

More people making dangerous journeys across the English Channel were brought ashore after Thursday’s tragedy.

A group of people wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen hanging out together on the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, or RNLI lifeboat, before landing in Dover on Thursday morning.

Three helicopters and three boats searched the area after finding dead bodies and people unconscious in the water after a fisherman raised an alarm regarding Wednesday’s incident.

A source close to the investigation said the boat had left the shore in Dunkirk before hitting Calais to the west.

Johnson said after a crisis meeting with senior officials, he was “shocked, shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of life at sea”.

But he also said Britain had “difficulties in persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to act in a way that deserves the status”.

According to Downing, in telephone talks, Johnson and Macron agreed on “the urgency to pursue joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings” and “it is important to put all options on the table” to sabotage the smuggling gangs’ business model. . Street.

In a brief retelling of the talks, the Elysee Palace said Macron told Johnson that France and the UK had a “shared responsibility” and added that he “had the advantage of fully cooperating with the British and a dramatic situation for political ends”. Expected to avoid lifting”.

British media reports said the UK government is keen to revive an idea for joint British-French patrols off the coast of northern France, which in the past had been rejected by Paris.

One of the French lifeboats, Charles Devos, described seeing “a flat, gust-to-wind boat with little wind that helped it float”, surrounded by the bodies of the drowned.

Pierre Roux of the Auberge des Migrants non-governmental organization (NGO) in Calais said the channel runs the risk of being as deadly as the Mediterranean, which has seen a much higher toll from migrant crossings.

“People are dying in the channel that is becoming cemeteries. And as in England the exact opposite, people will continue to cross,” he said.

According to France, 31,500 people have attempted to sail to Britain since the start of the year and 7,800 have been rescued at sea, a double that since August.

According to British officials, more than 25,000 undocumented people have arrived so far this year, which has already tripled the number recorded in 2020.


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