English Channel tragedy: After dozens drowned, England and France intensify war of words


On Thursday, ministers on both sides of the channel blamed their colleagues including a young woman for drowning in the bitter cold waters off the French coast when their inflatable ship bound for Britain sank. This was one of the greatest casualties in the English Channel in recent years.

The head of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq said on Thursday that Iraqi Kurds were among the victims. Authorities are working to establish their identities, Masood Barzani tweeted, adding, “Our thoughts are with their families.”

Both French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed shock at the tragedy, saying Macron would not allow his country to turn the Channel into a graveyard. Leaders agreed to step up joint efforts to prevent the dramatic increase in immigration this year, but blamed each other for not doing enough.

In a phone call Wednesday night, Macron urged Johnson to go further and stop politicizing the immigration crisis for domestic political gain, according to the French reading of their conversation.

On Thursday morning, finger-pointing continued among younger politicians.

On November 24, police sealed off the area around the rescue operation in the French port of Calais.

The Dover MP from the UK, who is visited by many immigrants from France, told CNN that the deaths on the channel were “absolutely unpredictable” and that the problem was a border guard problem, and that the solution was in France.

“This is a completely unforeseen tragedy, and sooner or later one of these boats will capsize and people will die,” Natalie Elfik told CNN near Dover Harbor on Thursday.

“People in France are safe, and the best way to keep people safe is to keep them on shore, not in the hands of the kidnappers in the middle of the channel,” he added.

The British politician added, “The French are standing where people are boarding boats. They are not stopping them. That is where the policy must change, on the French side.”

French Interior Minister Gerald Dormane told reporters in front of a hospital in Calais, north France, that at least 27 people had died on the city's beach.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Gerald Dormann called for further support from European neighbors, telling the radio station RTL on Thursday that France could not be “the only country that can fight the kidnappers”.

“We are telling this to our Belgian friends … we are telling this to our German friends … and we are telling this to our English friends to help us fight the international smugglers they are playing with. Borders,” Dormann said.

Asked why Britain is attracting illegal immigrants, Dormann pointed to Britain’s methods of managing immigration and its thriving labor market. “The mismanagement of immigration in the UK is obvious,” he said.

In the coming days, Dormann will hold meetings to better prevent “French soil from coming in” from the southern, northern and eastern migration routes, President Macron told reporters on Thursday. By the time these immigrants reached the English Channel, it was “already too late,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke during a press conference following his meeting with the Croatian president in Zagreb on Thursday.

Macron said France would continue to use drones and reserves to respond to the situation and seek additional mobilization from British forces. Both France and the UK should work together to eliminate the network of smugglers, he said.

Meanwhile, UK Immigration Minister Kevin Foster told the BBC on Thursday that his government was determined to “crush” the “really evil business model” of abduction.

He added that prison kidnapping would increase penalties and improve “safe” immigration routes directly from conflicts or refugee camps. Foster said Britain had begun to pay $ 72 million in installments to France to deal with the crisis.

A deadly shortcut

Thurman’s RTL reported on Thursday that five hijackers have now been arrested in connection with the deadly piracy on Wednesday. He said one of the hijackers arrested Wednesday night had “German license plates” and “bought these boats in Germany.”

Dharmanin said the Somali and Iraqi nationals who survived the “severe depression” and were transferred to a hospital in Calais, northern France, had survived the tragedy. Of the 27 dead, five were women, one is still missing, Dharman said.

The narrow waterway between Britain and France is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Refugees and migrants fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in the world’s poorest or war-torn countries face the danger of dangerous crossings, often in dingy deserving of travel and at the mercy of human traffickers in the hope of seeking asylum or economic opportunities in the UK.

Dozens of people died in the Channel tragedy after an inflated boat sank off the French coast

According to Reuters, Dormann said the diaspora’s dinghy had collapsed and was “inflated like an inflated garden pond” when rescuers arrived.

Despite Wednesday’s tragedy, pessimistic people continue their perilous journey across the channel. A group of life jackets and blankets arriving in Dover on Thursday morning were spotted together on a lifeboat, the UK Press Association said.

Immigrants once tried to smuggle themselves out of France in trucks crossing the canal by boat or train. But in recent years that route has become more expensive, with smugglers charging thousands of euros for each attempt.

So far this year, more than 25,700 people have crossed the English Channel to Britain in small boats, according to data compiled by the PA Media News Agency three times the total by 2020. On Wednesday alone, French authorities rescued 106 people. Wandering in various boats on the canal, more than 200 people passed by.

Earlier this month, French sports retailer Decathlon announced it would stop selling kayaks in some stores in northern France in an effort to prevent people from using the dangerous seas across the UK.

CNN’s Mia Alberti, Mick Grover, Nick Robertson, Mohamed Tawfeek and Lindsay Isaac contributed to the report.


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