After 27 migrants died at sea, France appeals for European aid

Calais, France-When French maritime rescue volunteer Charles Devos joined his ship in a frenzy looking for a fragile migrant ship that sank in the English Channel and killed at least 27 people, the helicopter buzzed over the waves Buzzing, the ship is already searching in the cold waters.

De Vos’s discovery is creepy. But no, he later admitted sadly, completely unexpected. As immigrants often enter busy shipping lanes with hundreds of unsuitable and overloaded ships, these lanes are criss-crossed by bulky freighters, and are often plagued by dangerous weather, waves and ocean currents. DeVos has long been worried. Tragedies will follow one after another.

“We picked up six floating bodies. We passed a deflated inflatable boat. The little bit of air left to make it float,” De Vos told reporters.

“I kind of looked forward to it because I would say,’It will end in a drama,'” he said.

France and the United Kingdom called on Europe to provide assistance on Thursday, pledged to increase efforts to combat human smuggling networks, and blamed and barbed each other after the deadly sinking incident on Wednesday, which once again revealed the scale and complexity of the European immigration problem.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on European neighboring countries to take more measures to prevent illegal immigrants from entering France, saying that when immigrants arrived on the French coast and wanted to go to the UK, it was “too late.”

Macron stated that France is deploying military drones as part of strengthening its northern coastline patrols and helping migrants at sea. But he also said that greater collective efforts are needed to call France a “transit country” for British immigrants.

“We need to strengthen cooperation with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, as well as the United Kingdom and the (European) Commission,” he said during a visit to Croatia. “We need stronger European cooperation.”

Immigration is an explosive problem in Europe, and leaders often accuse each other of not doing enough to prevent immigrants from entering their country or continuing to travel to other countries.

The Macron government announced that ministers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom and EU officials will meet on Sunday to discuss increasing efforts to combat migrant smuggling networks.

They will meet in Calais, one of the French coastal towns where immigrants gather, looking for a way to cross to the British coast, which can be seen from France on a clear day. Coastal communities on both sides of the strait were shocked Thursday by the terrible losses caused by the sinking.

Ludovic Hochart, an officer of the Calais Police Union, said: “Unfortunately, this is foreseeable. This is a horrible scene that we are afraid and afraid of.”

In the British port of Dover across the strait, small business owner Paula Elliot said: “People have lost their lives. It’s terrible.”

“The ship they were on was sailing and was not suitable for use,” she said. “They may not understand how difficult the journey will be, especially at this time of the year, which is much colder than summer.”

Rescue volunteer De Vos told reporters in a comment broadcast on the coastal radio station Delta FM that the fragile ships used by migrants to transit are increasingly overloaded, with as many as 50 people on board.

Macron described the dead in the shipwreck on Wednesday as “victims of the worst system, that is, victims of smugglers and human traffickers.”

He said that France has never mobilized so many officials against illegal immigration, and its commitment is “comprehensive.”

In order to escape conflict or poverty in Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Eritrea or other places, more and more people are risking a dangerous journey from France, hoping to obtain asylum or find better opportunities in the UK.

Compared with 2020, the number of border crossings this year has tripled. French authorities said Wednesday was the deadliest immigration tragedy in the strait since the death of seven migrants in October 2020. However, shipwrecks of this scale are not uncommon in the Mediterranean. This year, according to estimates by the United Nations, 1,600 people have died or are missing.

The French prosecutor’s office responsible for investigating the shipwreck said that the dead included 17 men, 7 women, two boys and a girl believed to be a teenager. The prosecutor’s office said the magistrate is investigating possible murder, accidental injury, assisting illegal immigration and criminal conspiracy charges.

Interior Minister Gerald Damanen said that among the dead were children and pregnant women. The two survivors of the shipwreck were treated for hypothermia. Darmanin said that one is an Iraqi and the other is a Somali. He said that the authorities are working to determine the nationality of the victim.

The Macron government vowed to bring those responsible for the tragedy to justice, which put pressure on investigators. Darmanin announced the arrest of five persons suspected of smuggling. He said they were suspected of being connected to the sinking of the ship. He did not provide detailed information about the so-called link. The prosecutor’s office investigating the deaths confirmed that five people had been arrested since Wednesday, but said they did not appear to be involved in the investigation.

Darmanin said that a suspected smuggler arrested at night drove a vehicle registered in Germany and bought an inflatable boat there.

He said that criminal groups in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom are behind the population smuggling networks. He called on these countries to better cooperate in combating smugglers, saying that they do not always fully respond to requests for information from the French judiciary.

“Britain and France must work together. In fact, we must not be the only ones who can fight smugglers,” the minister said.

In an immediate response to the shipwreck, the French authorities initially gave different death tolls, ranging from at least 27 to 31. The number Darmanin used on RTL on Thursday morning was 27 people.

The minister also criticized the British government’s immigration policy, saying that France has expelled more people living in the country than the United Kingdom without legal permission. Illegal immigration from the northern coast of France to the United Kingdom has long been a tension between the two countries. The root cause of the police forces is working together to stop the border crossing. Politicians on both sides who promote the anti-immigration agenda frequently use this question.

“Obviously, immigration in the UK is poorly managed,” Dammanen said.

He also said that by hiring people who live in the country illegally, British employers are encouraging illegal immigration to the British coast.

“British employers use this labor to make things that the British make and consume,” he said. “We say’reform your labor market.'”

At the same time, British officials criticized France for rejecting the proposal of the British police and border officials to conduct joint patrols along the Strait with the French police.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that France’s actions to prevent migrant ships from leaving the French coast were clearly “not enough”.

Johnson’s office stated that he and Macron had a conversation after the tragedy and agreed to “reserve all options to stop these deadly border crossings and break the business model of the criminal gang behind them”.

According to Macron’s office, he advocates immediate financial support for Frontex, the EU border agency.

“France will not allow the strait to become a cemetery,” Macron said.


Lester reports from Lepec, France. Lori Hinnant in Paris and David Keyton in Dover, England contributed.


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