Portuguese / Spanish / English

Channel will swallow more migrants heading for Britain, charities say

AT SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 07: Migrants packed tightly onto a small inflatable boat attempt to cross the English Channel near the Dover Strait, the world's busiest shipping lane, on September 07, 2020 off the coast of Dover, England. Last Wednesday, more than 400 migrants made the journey from France to England by sea, either intercepted by UK border force or arriving on shore in their small boats. (Photo by Luke Dray/Getty Images)
Migrants packed tightly onto a small inflatable boat attempt to cross the English Channel near the Dover Strait, the world's busiest shipping lane, on September 07, 2020 off the coast of Dover, England [Luke Dray/Getty Images]

The day after 27 people died trying to reach Britain in an inflatable dinghy, charities said the Channel dividing Britain from France was sure to claim more migrants risking everything to flee war and poverty across the Middle East and Africa, Reuters reports.

"Unless we see this as a catalyst for proper systemic change, this will keep happening again and it will get worse," said Kay Marsh, who works for the migrant charity, Samphire, in Dover, Britain's gateway to Europe. "The deterrents aren't working."

In the past decade, hundreds of thousands have slipped into the wealthy economies of Western Europe with the help of smugglers, fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty on epic journeys from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan and elsewhere. Few are welcomed.

France and Britain traded blame on Thursday, after the worst recorded accident of its kind in the Channel. But only hours after the drowning, around 40 migrants made it to Dover, to be taken away on a red double-decker bus by British border forces.

READ: Thirty-one refugees drown in English Channel, UK PM blames people trafficking gangs

Neither the peril of the crossing nor the $2,500 per person that charities say the smugglers charge appears to deter them.

Campaigners say Britain should, therefore, allow asylum claims to be made from outside the country.

"We need to be giving people the option to claim asylum before reaching British shores: a processing centre in northern France where people can make their claim to asylum without having to make the crossing, and people with a legitimate claim to asylum can be brought here safely," Marsh said.

So far this year, 25,776 migrants are known to have crossed the Channel illegally, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019, according to tallies compiled by the BBC using interior ministry data.

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council charity, said: "The government needs to look at providing what are called safe routes, safe ways that people who are in search of safety can get to the UK."

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said this would only encourage more people to embark on dangerous journeys:

"We need to address illegal migration upstream – and before people reach the French coast."

($1 = 0.7512 pounds)

READ: One politician is steering Britain to the far-right

Categories
AfricaEurope & RussiaFranceMiddle EastNewsUK
Show Comments
Show Comments