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A Channel Tragedy

25 November 2021

By Laura Griffiths

Yesterday, 27 people sadly died trying to cross the Channel, including a pregnant woman and three children travelling in what the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described as “a pool you blow up in your garden.” This was the single worst loss of life since 2014, when the International Office for Migration’s records began.

French President Emmanuel Macron called upon the EU’s Borders Agency to do more. Macron views the migrant crisis as one which all Europeans need to solve together in a bid to battle human trafficking and requested an emergency meeting of migration ministers across the European Union to come together to tackle the issue, to avoid the Channel becoming a “cemetery.”

The UK Government believes that the ships charged with patrolling the Channel are instead allowing people to climb onto whatever floating transport has been defined as a boat by traffickers. The dangers of doing so have been called out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a sentiment reiterated by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who says the tragic incident served as the starkest possible reminder of the dangers of these Channel crossings organised by ruthless criminal gangs.

Whatever the circumstances of individuals may be for choosing to make the crossing, the priority for both the UK and France should be a safe and legal passage for refugees to use  to prevent any further loss of life. This needs to be done by working together instead of the two countries pitting themselves against each other in another post-Brexit blame game.

It is the human cost of inaction that needs be at the forefront of every decision maker’s mind when immigration and border policies are created and implemented, to avoid yet another Channel tragedy.