Social Issues

Migrants in France undeterred by mass drowning in English Channel

By Marta Garde

Paris, Nov 27 (EFE).- France vows to do more to stop migrants trying to reach the United Kingdom by boat after this week’s deadly capsizing in the English Channel, but some of the desperate people who have made their way to the Calais coast from the Middle East and Africa told Efe Saturday that they were determined to press on.

At least 27 people were killed Wednesday when their inflatable boat foundered not long after they set out from Dunkerque.

Some 33,000 migrants have risked the Channel crossing so far this year, more than four times the number in 2020, and France’s maritime rescue service has come to the aid of 7,800 of those voyagers.

British authorities say that upwards of 25,700 migrants have reached the UK, compared with around 8,500 last year.

As the investigation into Wednesday’s tragedy continues, La Voix du Nord newspaper citing the two survivors – identified only as men from Iraq and Somalia – as saying that the boat capsized due to panic among the passengers after the craft sprung a leak.

Empty life vests found floating near the bodies of the dead suggest that the boat was carrying more than 29 people.

Four people were arrested within hours of the disaster on charges of migrant trafficking and a fifth was taken into custody Wednesday night.

The probe is being carried out by personnel from France’s JUNALCO organized-crime unit, while the medical examiner’s office in Lille is in the process of identifying the bodies.

Among the migrants camped out on the Calais coast, the tragedy does not seem to have lessened anyone’s resolve to reach the UK.

“Exile is not easy. It is full of horror. I hope that Allah helps us arrive in England,” Ali, a 36-year-old Tunisian who left his homeland in July 2020 and ended up in France after sojourns in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium, told Efe.

Another occupant of the makeshift camp, a Sudanese national named Saleh, complained about the brutality of the French police.

“On Nov. 20 the police hit a friend. They broke his arm. The French police are very violent with immigrants and refugees,” Saleh said. EFE


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