Western Europe

Dozens gather in Calais, France, to pay tribute to 31 deceased migrants

17:27, 25 November 2021
Dozens gather in Calais, France, to pay tribute to 31 deceased migrants Photo: pledgetimes.com

The citizens have also protested against the country’s immigration policy and criticized its Interior Minister.

Over 50 people have gathered at the port of France’s northern city Calais as a sign of homage to at least 31 migrants who died on Wednesday as they tried to get to the UK from France’s north on a boat and suffered a shipwreck.

Activists and human rights groups held a vigil and called on the government to protect migrants. They criticized France’s Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin shouting “Darminin, assassin, you’ve got blood on your hands”.

Protesters carried banners with captions “30 years of announcements, inhumane and demeaning treatment” and “Calais, human rights outraged, broken, martyred” referring to the famous quotation of Charles de Gaulle “Paris! Paris outraged, Paris broken, Paris martyred, but Paris liberated.”

A group of activists was captured singing an anti-war song Rue des Lilas.

What are the demonstrations about

At least 31 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.

France’s authorities announced that among those deceased were seven women and three children. Rescue services managed to save two people and keep searching for another migrant gone missing. Those saved are in critical condition due to grave hypothermia.

The tragedy has been reported by a French fisherman who noticed around 15 bodies near Calais on Wednesday afternoon. The government has opened an investigation into aggravated involuntary manslaughter.

Reactions of French officials

French President Emmanuel Macron has called an urgent European meeting and directed the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to immediately reinforce its patrols.

“France will not let La Manche become a graveyard,” the President said.

Last week the French head of state announced in an interview that he was determined to boost cooperation with London on the issue.

Prime Minister of France Jean Castex has dubbed the incident “a tragedy” and blamed illegal traffickers for it.

“My thoughts are with those injured and gone missing, victims of criminal traffickers who exploit their misery and distress,” he wrote on Twitter.

Castex also added that he would hold a meeting with eight French ministers on Thursday.

France’s Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin has arrived in the city of Calais and presented his condolence on the spot adding that the death toll might reach 33 victims. He has also thanked rescue agents, police officers, sailors, and med workers for their efforts and accused human smugglers of the tragedy, highlighting that French forces successfully fight such groups.

“These are criminals who organize human trafficking from Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, or Asia for several thousand euros and then exploit these people.”

In an interview given to RTL, the minister said that French emergency services regularly carry out rescue operations and have saved over 7,800 people in the territorial waters of the country and detained more than 1,500 human traffickers in 2021 so far.

On Thursday morning Darmanin announced that five suspects had been arrested in the evening and at night.

Dozens gather in Calais, France, to pay tribute to 31 deceased migrantschinadailyhk.com

According to France’s statistics, around 31,500 migrants have left the French coast in 2021 so far while 7,800 of them have been saved. London confirms the data adding that about 22,000 migrants have successfully reached their destination, predominantly the city of Dover.