An Iraqi migrant who died attempting to swim the Channel from France to Britain has been recovered off the coast of Belgium.
The stretch of water between England and France is 21 miles with strong currents and cold water. It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and one of world’s most dangerous open water swims.
The 48-year-old was found 30 kilometres off the coast of Zeebrugge at a windfarm. He was wearing a life jacket he had made out of empty plastic bottles and one flipper.
Eight days before he was discovered a Belgian sailor told French maritime authorities that he has seen a man shouting for help near Dunkirk in France. He tried to save him but he was swept away by a current.
The Iraqi is believed to have had his asylum claim turned down in Germany.
In response to the discovery the governor of West Flanders Carl Decaluwé said: “It is the first time we have found in our waters a dead migrant.”
“I am convinced a lot of people died already, but they never find the bodies.”
In 2017 Iraqis were the third highest nationality to apply for asylum in the UK – 47,930 applied, 6.7 per cent of all applications.
Iraqi refugees are at risk of being forcibly returned to Iraq despite the fact that the country faces suicide bombings, kidnappings and militia violence.
Over 970 people have crossed the Channel in small boats since the beginning of 2019. Over 45,000 migrants and refugees have reached Europe by sea already this year.