Deadliest Channel refugee tragedy raises alarm in France, UK | News

Britain and France are considering new measures to curb migration across the English Channel and cut off human trafficking networks after at least 27 refugees and migrants – including three children and a pregnant woman – drowned off the coast of northern France.

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

A demonstration with the “No More Channel Deaths” flag will be held in London later on Thursday in front of the UK Home Office.

President Emmanuel Macron promised that France would not allow the English Channel to turn into a “cemetery” and spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to agree to step up efforts to prevent an increase in overspending charges against smugglers.

Prime Minister Jean Castex will hold a crisis meeting with ministers on Thursday to discuss new measures, the prime minister said.

According to Lille’s public prosecutors, 17 men, seven women and three children died when an inflatable boat lost air and rose into the water in the northern port of Calais on Wednesday. A homicide investigation has been launched.

According to IOM, about 200 refugees and migrants have died this year during a dangerous journey.

The disaster poses a new challenge to French-British cooperation after Brexit. Preliminary statements from both parties, which placed responsibility on the other party, showed that the tragedy is not an automatic catalyst for cooperation. In September, Britain threatened to send migrant ships back to France.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said a total of five suspected smugglers accused of being directly involved in the destruction of the conviction at the intersection have been arrested, the fifth man suspected of buying inflatables.

Darmanin said two survivors recovering from hypothermia, an Iraqi and a Somali, had been found and were eventually interrogated.

Calach Mayor Natacha Bouchart said the victims included a pregnant woman.

More people who made the dangerous journey across the English Channel were brought ashore after Thursday’s tragedy.

A group of people wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen curled up in one of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution or RNLI lifeboats before they left Dover on Thursday morning.

In connection with Wednesday’s incident, three helicopters and three boats had explored the area and found bodies and unconscious people in the water after a fisherman’s alarm.

The boat had set off off the coast of Dunkirk before encountering problems west of Calais, a source close to the investigation said.

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

But he also said Britain has had “difficulty getting some of our partners, especially the French, to do things right.”

In telephone conversations, Johnson and Macron agreed that “there is an urgent need to step up joint efforts to prevent these deadly exceedances” and that “it is vital to keep all options on the table” to break down the smugglers’ business model, according to Downing. Street.

In a brief text on the talks, Elysée Palace said Macron told Johnson that France and the UK had “shared responsibilities” and added that he “assumed the British would cooperate fully and refrain from exploiting the dramatic situation for political purposes”.

According to British media, the British government wants to revive the idea of ​​joint British-French patrols off the coast of northern France, which Paris has previously rejected.

One of the French lifeboat workers, Charles Devos, described seeing a “flat, emptied inflatable boat with little air to help it float” surrounded by drowned bodies.

Pierre Roques of the Auberge des Migrants in Calais said the Channel could become as deadly as the Mediterranean, where the number of migrant crossings has increased.

“People are dying in the Channel, which is becoming a cemetery. And because England is just the opposite, people continue to cross, ”he said.

According to France, 31,500 people have tried to leave Britain since the beginning of the year and 7,800 people have been rescued from the sea, which has doubled since August.

More than 25,000 illegal people have arrived this year, according to the British authorities, which will triple by 2020.

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