United Kingdom

UK officials react to 31 migrant deaths in English Channel

17:32, 25 November 2021
UK officials react to 31 migrant deaths in English Channel Photo: HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters

Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and other notable politicians have provided comments on the recent tragedy which took the lives of 27 migrants trying to reach the UK from France.

At least 27 migrants seeking to reach Britain drowned in the waters of the English Channel as their boat wrecked shortly after it had departed from the French city of Dunkirk on Wednesday.

British officials, whose relations with France have recently worsened over fishing disputes and the migrant issue, have sharply reacted to the deadliest migrant-related incident lately.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an interview that he was appalled by the incident adding that his thoughts and sympathies were with the families of the victims and highlighting that the English Channel was not the right place to cross on a boat.

“This disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this way.”

Like his French counterpart Jean Castex, Johnson put the blame on “gangsters sending people to sea in that way” and urged both British and French authorities to improve cooperation on the issue and accelerate the fight against human traffickers.

“I say to our partners across the Channel: now is the time for us all to step up, to work together, to do everything we can to break these gangs who are literally getting away with murder.”

In another speech, the PM slightly reproached French law enforcement agencies for taking insufficient measures to prevent such incidents.

“The operation that is being conducted by our friends on the beaches, supported as you know with £54 mn from the UK to help patrol the beaches, the technical support we've been giving, they haven't been enough.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel delivered her condolence to the victims and also stressed the peril the Channel represents.

In another Twitter post, she presented new reforms to the UK immigration policy and promised to work with France and the EU on the “deadly journeys”.

Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer said that it was the duty of the government, France, and the international community to stop the deadly practice.

Immigration minister Tom Pursglove called the event a “day he has always feared” and recollected a practice that might be useful to solve the problem.

"It is the case that in the past we have offered to host and help with joint patrols and I think that could be invaluable in helping to address this issue and I really do hope the French reconsider that offer."

Chief Executive of the British Red Cross Mike Adamson called the tragedy “truly heartbreaking” and suggested that the British government accept 10,000 people per year and make the asylum-seeking process easier.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke has urged France to multiply security patrols on its northern beaches and accommodate more migrants. She has insisted that the UK will offer its help and equipment to organize more surveillance groups.

"This is a humanitarian crisis on the shores of France and these people, smugglers, must not be allowed to continue to ply their trade and put peoples' lives at risk in these wintry seas."

Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon compared asylum-seeking procedures of the UK and Germany implying that Britain could look up to the EU giant and establish a more efficient system.