The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) launched a Twitter storm on Wednesday to raise awareness of the dangerous journey made by refugees to reach safety in Europe with the hashtag #SafePassageNow.
📢TWITTER STORM WEDNESDAY!
To shine a spotlight on the nearly 300 border-related deaths between the UK & France since 1999, we're asking people to take part in an online action this Wednesday at 12-3pm, using the hashtag #SafePassageNow
— Institute of Race Relations (@IRR_News) November 23, 2020
The project, known as "deadly crossings", aimed to humanise the refugees and migrants who have been victims of border-related violence, and go behind the statistics and 'facts'.
IRR also hoped to raise awareness about the 300 border-related deaths between the UK and France since 1999.
High profile figures got involved, such as author Alan Gibbons, and UK MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy.
When I visited the Calais refugee camp, I heard asylum seekers' stories at first hand.
— Alan Gibbons (@mygibbo) November 25, 2020
300 people are known to have died trying to reach the UK since 1999. That's 1 death every 4 weeks.
— Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP (@BellRibeiroAddy) November 25, 2020
The nearly 300 border-related deaths between the UK & France since '99 are not tragic accidents but the result of man-made policies. Borders won't stop the movement of people, they just kill those that do #SafePassageNow
— Ilyas Nagdee (@ilyas_nagdee) November 25, 2020
Others called on governments to rethink their harsh immigration policies, pointing out that they only serve to harm migrants and enrich the smugglers the governments claim to be cracking down on.
— Migrant Voice (@MigrantVoiceUK) November 25, 2020
"The UK government tries to present migrant Channel crossings as a failing on the French side. But much of the hardship in Calais stems from the refusal of the British gov to provide a #safePassage for people with a legitimate claim to asylum in this country." #SafePassageNowhttps://t.co/JJbBXdH3Yv
— Jesuit Refugee Service UK (@JRSUK) November 25, 2020
The UK Govmnt is attempting to delude the public with the message that 2021 will see a return to control over borders. This is not true. As Brexit dawns Britain is left without a coherent policy that will allow the decades old border crisis to be finally resolved#SafePassageNow
— Migrantpptlondon (@Migrantpptlond1) November 25, 2020
Others took the opportunity to tell the stories of the families and people who have suffered and died due to the lack of protection given to migrants fleeing to the UK.
27 Oct. 2020: "Seven people, including five from one Iranian Kurdish family, Rasul Iran Nezhad and Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, and their children Anita (9), Armin (6) and Artin (15 months), and two more adults, died of drowning or cardiac arrest after a small boat ..capsized"
— Dr. Sue Conlan (@sueconlan) November 25, 2020
— Sandra Röken (@SanRoeken) November 26, 2020
"This report is about challenging the idea that this massacre is the result of misfortune. Reducing tragedies to accidents or framing them in terms of violence occurring between migrants is a way of concealing the responsibility of public authorities" – @legisti
— Institute of Race Relations (@IRR_News) November 25, 2020
The IRR said that deaths at the UK borders have received far less attention than those in the Mediterranean.
Maël Galisson of Gisti, a legal service for asylum seekers in France, said: "This report is about challenging the idea that this massacre is the result of misfortune. Reducing these tragedies to accidents or framing them in terms of violence occurring between migrants, as we often see in the media, is a way of concealing the responsibility of public authorities for a situation that has lasted for more than twenty years."
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has been criticised for her harsh border policy and recently faced ridicule for suggesting that boats of refugees may be deterred if wave machines were installed in the English channel, and proposed that nets be used to prevent refugees from reaching mainland Britain.