Authorities in Britain and France have exchanged blame after 27 migrants – including a pregnant woman and three children – died in the Channel last Wednesday. The tragedy was the worst on record involving people crossing the Channel, which is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
While the Prime Minister called on France to do more to stop migrants crossing, French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Boris Johnson for exploiting the issue for domestic ends.
The number of people who have made the perilous journey is now three times the number from the whole of 2020. Before Wednesday, 14 people had drowned this year trying to make it to the UK, according to a local maritime official. In 2020, seven people died and a further two disappeared.
Read more via Reuters.
France and Britain trade off responsibility
While both French and British leaders have agreed to do more to stop people making treacherous journeys, they have also blamed each other for allowing the issue to escalate.
In a letter to Macron, which was made public on Twitter, Johnson said both leaders had recognised the “urgency” of the situation, and outlined key steps which should be taken, including joint patrols on boats leaving French borders, and a bilateral returns agreement.
On Thursday, another MP for Dover said the problem was “foreseeable” and accused France of “standing by,” while French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, said there was a “mismanagement of immigration” in Britain.
Darmanin also said that two people – Somali and Iraqi nationals – had survived when the dingy collapsed, but they were now suffering from “serious hypothermia” and are being treated in hospital in Calais, France.
Read more via CNN.
Campaigners are calling for safer routes…
In the wake of the accident, and the increased number of people crossing the Channel, campaigners and experts have proposed several actions which could help stem the number of people making dangerous trips.
This includes creating safer, legal routes under refugee resettlement schemes. Despite promises of safer routes, only 1,171 were resettled under the UK government’s resettlement scheme between September 2020 and September 2021. Expanding schemes like Operation Pitting – which airlifted 15,000 out of Afghanistan this year – would allow people feeling conflict to resettle without making lift-threatening journeys.
Campaigners have also called for an overhaul of the asylum system after applications waiting to be processed have reached record lengths, as well as more processing centres at French borders and a resolve to work with other nations to end global conflict which forces vulnerable people to flee.
Read more via The Guardian.