At Least 5 Die Trying to Cross English Channel, Including a Young Girl

At Least 5 Die Trying to Cross English Channel, Including a Young Girl

By Oghale Apr23,2024

At least five people, including a young girl, died at sea off the coast of northern France on Tuesday during an attempt to cross the English Channel, the French authorities said, as governments on both sides of the waterway struggle to deter migrants from making the dangerous voyage to Britain.

The people who died were on an inflatable boat that was heavily overloaded with over 100 people, according to the French authorities. The boat was one of several vessels that were spotted on Tuesday morning by the French Coast Guard near the town of Wimereux.

The deaths came just hours after the British Parliament passed highly contentious legislation to allow the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda, a measure that the British authorities have presented as a way of deterring people from attempting the hazardous English Channel crossings.

Jacques Billant, the prefect for the Pas-de-Calais area, told reporters in Wimereux that several people had fallen out of the boat. The coast guard dispatched several vessels to assist, including semirigid inflatable boats and a tugboat, and found several people who were unconscious and in critical condition aboard.

Six people were brought ashore, but emergency workers were unable to resuscitate five of them, Mr. Billant said. The exact circumstances of the deaths and the identities of those involved were not immediately clear.

Jean-Luc Dubaele, the mayor of Wimereux, said that one of the victims was a young girl aged less than 10. Five people died in January near the same beach as they were attempting to traverse the English Channel’s frigid waters.

“It’s hard to accept,” Mr. Dubaele told the French news channel BFMTV.

Mr. Billant said that nearly 50 other people on the boat had been taken ashore and that four had been hospitalized with light injuries.

“Despite this complex and delicate situation, 57 people who were still on the inflatable boat remained on board and did not wish to be rescued,” Mr. Billant said. He added that the group had been able to restart the boat’s engine and had continued on their way to Britain.

In Britain, rights activists and immigration experts have expressed deep skepticism about the law approved by Parliament on Monday night. It has been championed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Conservative government as a way to stop people from reaching British shores on small boats — even though those people make up only a tiny fraction of asylum seeker arrivals into the country and an even smaller number of the overall migrants to Britain.

Nearly 36,000 people tried to reach British shores by crossing the English Channel last year, according to a report by the French maritime authorities.

One of the worst migrant-related tragedies in the channel came in 2021, when 27 people died after their boat capsized. Many people trying to reach Britain have fled the Middle East or Africa, clustering in small makeshift camps on the coast of northern France before trying to cross in small dinghies.

The British and French authorities have struck multiple deals over the past few years in efforts to curb the number of crossings. Last year, the two countries agreed that Britain would pay France more than $600 million over three years to help pay for drones, a new detention center and hundreds of additional police officers to patrol beaches.

Source link

By Oghale

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *