The sinking of a vessel crossing the English Channel, heading for the United Kingdom, resulted in the death of at least 29 people this Wednesday (23), off the coast of Calais, in northern France, according to local authorities . Rescue teams are searching to try to locate survivors in the region.
The probable causes of the tragedy are still unknown by the authorities, who have not disclosed the nationality of the victims.
According to British newspaper The Guardian, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold an emergency meeting on the tragedy on the Canal.
The wreck comes amid an increase in migratory tension in Calais and its surrounding regions, after peaks recorded in 2015 and 2016. This year, 24,655 people tried to cross the English Channel in an irregular manner. Throughout the year 2020, there were 9,551 illegal migrants seeking to make the crossing.
Pierre Roques, coordinator of the NGO Auberge des Migrants in Calais, told France Presse that he fears the English Channel will become as deadly to refugees as the Mediterranean. “People are dying on the Canal, which is turning into a cemetery. And as England is on the opposite side, people will continue to try to cross it”, he said.
The Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, spoke about the wreckage and called it a “tragedy” in a post on his Twitter profile. “I direct my thoughts to the countless missing and wounded victims of criminal traffickers, who exploit the despair and misery of immigrants,” he wrote.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin headed for Calais, where he follows the work of local authorities and rescue teams. Last week, an immigrant trafficking network in the English Channel was disrupted, with the arrest of 15 people. In the region, there is a large flow of people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Eritrea, among other countries.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke on Twitter about the tragedy. “This is heartbreaking news. My thoughts go to all those affected by this tragic event. No one should have to risk their life that way. Those seeking refuge need safe routes – the British government must work with the French authorities to provide them,” he said.
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