The two countries are experiencing a new spike in migrant drownings as people attempt to cross the English Channel. The U.K.’s death toll has already surpassed that of 2018, while France is still trying to cope with the death of its 100th immigrant this year.
The “migrants vs immigrants” is a live news and updates from France and U.K.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution rescued migrants from another boat on Wednesday and delivered them to Dungeness, on England’s southeast coast. Credit… Getty Images/Ben Stansall/Agence France-Presse
The leaders of France and England vowed to crack down on migrant crossings the day after at least 27 people died trying to cross the English Channel when their flimsy inflatable boat capsized during the perilous journey, even as they offered a fractious response to one of the deadliest disasters in recent years involving migrants trying to cross the narrow waterway separating the two countries.
As rescuers toiled in the cold and wind to collect remains and attempt to identify those who perished, French authorities revealed that children and a pregnant lady were among those who drowned. Two persons, one from Iraq and the other from Somalia, were discovered and sent to a French hospital for treatment of severe hypothermia.
The incident served as a sharp reminder that, five years after authorities demolished a massive migrant camp in Calais, both nations are still grappling with the influx of migrants in the region.
France and the United Kingdom have long accused each other of not doing enough to prevent illegal crossings of the English Channel. Following the tragedy on Wednesday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for stronger measures to enable combined patrols around the French coast.
And, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the British should “cooperate completely and refrain from exploiting this catastrophic situation for political gain.”
The two presidents talked by phone late Wednesday and agreed to boost up efforts to prevent migrants from making the trek over one of the world’s busiest shipping channels, according to remarks released afterward.
Britain pays France to monitor and police border crossings as part of an arrangement between the two countries.
Mr. Johnson was “shocked, outraged, and extremely grieved” by the loss of life at sea in the English Channel, he added. “I also want to stress that this incident highlights how perilous it is to cross the Channel in this manner,” he continued.
Mr. Macron urged for rapid strengthening of border controls and a stepped-up assault on people traffickers in collaboration with other European countries.
“France will not allow the English Channel to become a cemetery,” he stated in a statement.
The drownings occurred only days after French and British officials agreed to do more to reduce the number of people who go to sea.
As authorities have tightened down on the smuggling of asylum seekers inside lorries traveling by ferry or via the Channel Tunnel, attempts to enter Britain in tiny boats have grown in recent years.
According to French authorities, there have been 47,000 attempts to cross the Channel in tiny boats since the beginning of the year, with 7,800 migrants rescued from shipwrecks. So far this year, seven individuals have died or been reported missing.
Many migrants, particularly those from Africa and the Middle East, such as Iraq and Eritrea, see Britain as a perfect destination since English is widely spoken, they have relatives or countrymen there, and it is relatively simple to get off-the-books employment.
According to migration experts and rights organizations, the recent surge in efforts to cross the English Channel by boat represents a change in how migrants are traveling, not in the number of migrants, who claim that overall, asylum applications in Britain are down this year.
The crossings have added to the deterioration of relations between France and the United Kingdom, which have also clashed over fishing rights and trade restrictions following Britain’s exit from the European Union, as well as a submarine alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which has thrown a spanner in a previous French agreement.
On Wednesday, another group of migrants arrived on the northern coast of France in a dinghy to try the Channel crossing. Credit… Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
On a clear day, the white cliffs of Dover may be seen from France. The English shore might look tantalizingly near, and it has drew migrants who have already traveled across Europe in the hopes of reaching Britain, where they think greater chances await them.
On Tuesday, roughly three dozen individuals, including men, women, and children, ventured out on a “very frail” inflatable boat into the strong currents and frigid, choppy seas that separate the two countries in the dead of night.
It is one of the world’s busiest maritime routes, yet the modest distance conceals the perils that the trip entails. The dangers are heightened by the fact that many of people trying the trek are aided by smugglers who cram them into overcrowded and imbalanced dinghies.
France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said officials suspected approximately 30 people were crammed into a rickety watercraft he described to “a pool you blow up in your yard.”
According to a story in the French press, the migrant boat was hit by a cargo ship, while French officials indicated the cause of the accident was still being investigated.
Mr. Darmanin told RTL radio on Thursday that many crossings began in the same manner.
“Dozens, if not hundreds, of migrants come to the beach during a storm to flee extremely fast, frequently at high tide, in improvised watercraft to reach England,” he added.
A fishing trawler told maritime officials on Wednesday afternoon that six persons had been sighted in the seas off the coast of Calais. A search and rescue effort was quickly launched, including ships and aircraft.
Two persons, one from Iraq and the other from Somalia, were discovered and sent to a French hospital for treatment of severe hypothermia. Officials say the boat was found entirely deflated. As of Thursday morning, the exact number of those still missing remained unknown.
The task of identifying those who died was expected to be made more difficult by the fact that many migrants discard any identity documents before crossing. Women and children were among the deceased, according to Mr. Darmanin. On Thursday, it was still unknown where all of the migrants in the group came from.
Authorities believe the watercraft was purchased in Germany by a smuggler driving a vehicle with German registration plates, according to Mr. Darmanin. Mr. Darmanin added the smuggler and four others had been apprehended in connection with the shipwreck.
Mr. Darmanin stated that sixty to seventy percent of migrants aiming to reach Britain come via Germany or the Netherlands and go through Belgium into France in order to make a speedy crossing.
“Smugglers pick them up and attempt to get them to the shore over the course of a few days,” he said. “This is a worldwide issue.”
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