PARIS — At least 31 people drowned in icy waters off the coast of France on Wednesday a boat capsized met migrants die trying to reach Britain in the english channel, one of the worst death tolls in recent years for migrants die try the dangerous crossing.
Gérald Darmanin, the interior of France minister, said that the dead, including five women and a little girl, were part of An group whose “extremely fragile” inflatable boat was found completely emptied by rescue workers.
Two people were saved but became in hospitalized with severe hypothermia. It was still unclear where the migrants came from, Mr Darmanin told reporters from Calais.
“It is an absolute tragedy die fills us with anger,” he said.
The drownings came just days after French and British authorities reached an agreement to do so more to stem the number of people take to the sea. They were also a grim reminder that five years after authorities dismantled a sprawling migrant camp in Calais, both countries are still struggling to handle the flow of migrants in the area.
“France won’t let the Channel become a graveyard,” said President Emmanuel Macron in a statement. He called on an immediate tightening of border controls and an increased crackdown? with other European countries on migrant smugglers. Mr Darmanin remarked, for that smugglers sometimes bought boats in Germany and brought them to France for use in human trafficking.
Local maritime authorities said they sent quickly out rescue ships and helicopters after a fishing vessel warned them that several people were lost off the coast of Calais.
Attempts to reach Britain by boat have increased in in recent years as the authorities crack down on the smuggling of asylum seekers in trucks die cross the Channel Tunnel.
Since it begin of de yearAccording to French officials, 47,000 attempts have been made to cross the Channel over and 7,800 migrants have been rescued from shipwrecks. seven people had died until now of disappeared this year before the incident on Wednesday.
Last week, Decathlon, a major sports chain, announced that it had stopped met selling kayaks in to be stores in Calais en in Grande-Synthe, another one city on the north coast, because they take the lives in to endanger of migrants die to attempt use around the channel over to stab.
many migrants — who are often from countries in Africa of the Middle East like Iraq and Eritrea — consider Britain an ideal destination because English is spoken, because they already to have family of compatriots there, and because the job market is more loosely regulated for undocumented migrants.
But the recent rise in attempts to cross the English Channel by boat over to sting reflects a shift in routes in place of a wave in migration, according to migration experts and rights groups, who say that over asylum applications in general in being Great Britain down this year.
The crossings have become another element in the deteriorating relations between France and Great Britain, with each side accuse the other of not do enough to curb the attempts. Under an agreement between the two nations, Britain pays France to clamp down on crossing by means of guards and patrols.
Mr Darmanin, the interior minister, said that on On Wednesday alone, 780 police officers and gendarmes stood watching the shoreline. More than 250 people made the crossing, he said, and 671 were arrested.
“So it was a day like another, unfortunately, “he added. He said die most responsible for the tragedy were smugglers who ask migrants for thousands of euros in stock exchange for unsafe passage on thin vessels.
Four smugglers with suspected ties met the boat die sank on were arrested on Wednesday, Mr Darmanin said.
Migrant rights groups are mainly critical of British officials who, they say, have adopted an increasingly tough attitude against asylum seekers, even threatening to push boats back towards France.
“This situation is the result of Britain is shameful policy,’ said Pierre Henry, the… former director of France Terre D’Asile, a migrant rights group. “France cannot continue as a subcontractor of that kind of migration policy. It’s absurd and ineffective. It just ends up to make more expensive the most dangerous form of intersection. What happened today had to happen.”
France has also criticized by non-profit groups who say police harass migrants in the area around Calais to let them go. A Human Rights Watch report from October described the tactic as “enforced” misery” — restriction of the distribution of food and water, cutting tents and the in confiscating sleeping bags and setting out camps repeatedly.
Olivier Caremelle, a local official and former chief of staff to the mayor of Grande-Synthe, which has long been hosting migrants and refugees, said Wednesday’s deaths were “to be expected” given the significant risks posed by the cold seas of the English Channel, heavy shipping traffic and transfers weather.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said he was “shocked and dismayed and deeply saddened by the loss”. of life at sea in the channel.” But he added: “L also want to say that this disaster underlines how dangerous is it around the Channel over to sting in this way.”
French authorities regularly set up migrant camps in cleared near Calais, giving migrants the opportunity to: move to a reception center and submit an asylum application. But many migrants prefer to continue their journey to Britain. That was such a camp home up to about 1,000 people in Grande-Synthe was erased last week.
Migrants will continue to try the Channel over to stab, said Mr. Caremelle, and are determined to on boats and try their luck in England.” only one policy die would try to find opportunities for them in France ‘would convince some’ of not to take such risks,” he said.
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