Twenty-seven #refugees and asylum seekers drowned trying to cross the #English Channel after their dinghy deflated and sank in the worst tragedy on record involving refugees in the sea between #France and the #UK since 2014.
On Wednesday, people left North France to benefit from the calm sea conditions. However, as the #dinghy sank, one fisherman saw people floating motionless and called the rescue service. Later, a joint French-British rescue operation came to force. Those who drowned included 17 men, 7 women - one of whom was pregnant - and 3 children. Two survivors, an #Iraqi and a #Somali, are in critical condition in a #French hospital, where they are being treated for severe hypothermia. One of the dead was an Afghan soldier who had worked with the #British armed forces and whose family decided to risk the crossing because they had "waited so long
for help" from the UK.
The number of people using small boats to cross the Channel has risen this year despite the dangers, and the issue has become an increasing point of friction between the UK and France. The tragedy is a stark reminder of what is to come after dismantling a refugee camp in #Calais. Government policies on both sides restricting asylum and tighter surveillance pushed people to take even more risks.
Waheed Arian, a former refugee from #Afghanistan, now an NHS doctor, said, " People flee theirhomes because their life is in danger, they are fleeing persecution. They are coming because the alternative is death for them." Several refugees have lost their legs, and some have died. Still, Sassd Amian, a 25-year-old Sudanese refugee, said he was not afraid. He traveled a long way from Sudan to France, passing through #Egypt, #Libya, and #Italy over the past four years, exposing himself to many dangers. "Death is nothing new in this life." (Méheut, NYT).
We, at Rethinking Refugees urge the governments to include humane, inclusive, safe and legal protection for refugees. Humanity trumps borders.