Relatives of migrants who have died have called for a “safe passage” to allow refugees to claim asylum without risking their lives in the English Channel
An official report has found that a boat that capsized and killed at least 27 migrants in the English Channel has reached UK waters. The interim report from the Maritime Accidents Investigation Branch comes on the first anniversary of the tragedy, with the migrants’ relatives saying they want “justice” and answers from the authorities.
The incident, which horrified the nation, was not initially looked into by British investigators because the boat was found inrench waters. However, MAIB’s interim findings confirmed that “some of the events related to these loss of life occurred within UK waters”.
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that transcripts of emergency calls made to therench coast guard indicate that desperate passengers were repeatedly told to contact the UK’s emergency services, despite being inrench waters when they first called for help.
France’s Le Monde reported that a leaked police investigation appeared to indicate that therench coast guard did not send assistance to the scene despite the UK’s request.
The British search and rescue response is being investigated on November 23 last year. About 34 people on a small inflatable left a beach near Dunkirk inrance that night before they got into difficulty.
The next afternoon, arench trawler reported seeing dead bodies in the water. Only two people survived the accident and 27 bodies were recovered from the sea.
What does the interim report say?
The report states that the scope of the investigation focused on the UK search and rescue response at the time, and does not look into the reasons for the attempted flight or the conduct of the flight.
The report reads: “The investigation established that during the evening of November 23, 2021, about 34 migrants left a beach near Dunkirk,rance, on a small perishable boat, to head to the United Kingdom. During the crossing, the migrants encountered difficulties and entered the sea.”
“Along with many other migrants who were crossing the Strait of Dover that night, some of those on board made phone calls to alert the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCC) ashore about their situation,” the report said.
Staff at Dover sent “land and air assets to search the area in which the distressed immigrants were assessed” but could not find them. The investigation is ongoing and a draft report is being prepared.
The interim report comes after weeks of controversy over the conditions under which migrants arriving in the UK were kept at the Manston processing center in Kent, which at one point held 4,000 people – although it had a capacity of 1,600. It is now empty with immigrants moving in
What did the relatives of immigrants say?
Sixteen relatives of those killed demanded that the prime minister make changes to prevent future tragedies. A letter from relatives, also signed by trade unions and groups including Care4Calais, Channel Rescue and Safe Passage, said that despite calls for distress from the dinghy “no one came”.
“Therench told them they were in British waters and the British told them they were inrench waters,” they wrote, adding, “We demand justice. We demand answers as to why the desperaterench and British authorities who came to seek help failed,” they wrote.
“We demand an end to the poisonous rhetoric used by our politicians – calling innocent refugees ‘illegal immigrants’ or worse, ‘invasion’ – which breeds fear and division. We call for safe passage to allow these refugees to seek asylum in Britain without risking their lives in the Channel.” .
According to the letter, 21 men and seven women, including a pregnant woman, and three teenagers died. The families wrote: “We demand that the division and fear of anti-immigrant rhetoric employed by political leaders be replaced by the kindness, compassion and empathy that people and communities across Britain show every day to refugees.”