At least 31 migrants die after boat capsizes in English channel

, At least 31 migrants die after boat capsizes in English channel, The Habari News
, At least 31 migrants die after boat capsizes in English channel, The Habari News

France’s prime minister said the shipwreck on Wednesday was a “tragedy” and his thoughts were with “victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened” by the loss of life in the English Channel and the Government will “leave no stone unturned to demolish human trafficking gangs”.

Mr Johnson will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in response to the deaths, Downing Street said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the deaths of 30 people after a boat capsized in the Channel were the “starkest possible reminder” of the dangers of the crossing.

She tweeted: “My thoughts are with the families of all of those who have tragically lost their lives in French waters today.

“It serves as the starkest possible reminder of the dangers of these Channel crossings organised by ruthless criminal gangs.

“It is why this Government’s New Plan for Immigration will overhaul our broken asylum system and address many of the long-standing pull factors encouraging migrants to make the perilous journey from France to the United Kingdom.”

Pierre-Henri Dumont said: “We all need, both sides of the Channel, to stop making migrants an internal argument with internal policies and try to figure out how to find a solution.

Mr Dumont added that five people are still missing at sea.

French politician Franck Dhersin said on Twitter that a boat with more than 50 people aboard had sunk in the middle of the Channel.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was headed there. “Strong emotion in the face of the tragedy of numerous deaths due to the capsizing of a migrant boat in the English Channel,” he wrote in a tweet.

, At least 31 migrants die after boat capsizes in English channel, The Habari News

Two helicopters and three police or rescue boats were at the scene, local authorities said.

Pierre Roques, coordinator of the Auberge des Migrants NGO in Calais, said the Channel risked becoming as deadly for migrants as the Mediterranean which has seen a much heavier toll over the last years of migrants crossing.

“People are dying in the Channel, which is becoming a cemetery. And as England is right opposite, people will continue to cross.”

The longstanding dispute between France and Britain has intensified this year after record numbers of migrants reaching the UK were recorded.

The Home Office issued a joint statement from the pair which said they had agreed measures to “stop the dangerous crossings” of the “deadly route”.

But the French embassy in London said the 100 per cent figure “should not be presented as an agreed figure”.

The tensions have added to a litany of post-Brexit issues between Britain and France, that also have seen a dispute over fishing rights threaten to escalate into a full-blown trade war.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “It’s heartbreaking to hear that the lives of more ordinary people have been lost on a harrowing journey to Britain in search of safety.

“How many tragedies like this must we see before the Government fundamentally changes its approach by committing to an ambitious expansion of safe routes for those men, women and children in desperate need of protection?

“Every day, people are forced to flee their home through no fault of their own. Now is the time to end the cruel and ineffective tactic of seeking to punish or push away those who try and find safety in our country.”

The Dover Strait is the busiest shipping lane in the world and has claimed many lives of people trying to cross to Britain in inflatable dinghies.