Quebec Standard

Thursday, December 9, 2021

French police officers patrolled the beach of Wimereux, near Calais, a day after at least 27 migrants died while attempting to cross the English Channel from France

At least 27 people have died in the English Channel, escalating tensions between the United Kingdom and France over how to stop migrants from crossing the world’s busiest waterway in small boats.

Despite Boris Johnson’s and Emmanuel Macron’s pledges to “do everything possible” to prevent people smugglers from putting lives in risk, politicians on both sides of the Channel are already sniping at their counterparts for failing to avoid Wednesday’s tragedy.

Officials in the United Kingdom have chastised France for rejecting their offer of British police and border officers to perform joint patrols with French police along the Channel coast. According to French authorities, Britain is fuelling the situation by making it too simple for migrants to stay in the nation and work once they cross the water.

According to a French government official, children and pregnant women were among those deceased when their small boat sank while attempting to cross the English Channel.

Till now five accused smugglers have been arrested, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, for their alleged involvement in the deadliest migratory catastrophe on the perilous sea channel.

French authorities reported slightly different statistics on the number of deceased in their immediate response to the disaster, ranging from at least 27 to 31.

In the middle of the finger-pointing, British lawmakers will debate the rising number of migrants crossing the channel in small boats on Thursday. Macron will meet with European Union officials to discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, migrants are braving the elements in small boats and unseaworthy dinghies in the hopes of reaching British shores in search of asylum or better chances. So far this year, more than 25,000 people have attempted the perilous crossing, nearly tripling the number for the entire year of 2020.

Source: CBC News

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