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France beefs up sea rescue work, migrants vow to pursue UK quest

  • Twenty-seven migrants died when their dinghy deflated
  • Britain and France commerce blame over the incident
  • Macron says France is beefing up sea rescue operations

DUNKIRK, France/ZAGREB, Nov 25 (Reuters) – France stated on Thursday it’s going to beef up the surveillance of its northern shores, however migrants huddling in makeshift camps stated neither that nor a tragic drowning the day earlier than would cease them from making an attempt to cross the Channel to Britain.

Seventeen males, seven girls and three youngsters died on Wednesday when their dinghy deflated within the Channel, certainly one of many such dangerous journeys tried in rickety, overloaded boats by folks fleeing poverty and struggle in Afghanistan, Iraq and past.

The deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, already at odds over Brexit, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying France was at fault and French Inside Minister Gerald Darmanin accusing Britain of “unhealthy immigration administration”.

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With relations fraught over Brexit and immigration, a lot of the concentrate on Thursday was on who ought to bear accountability, even when each side vowed to hunt joint options.

President Emmanuel Macron defended Paris’s actions however stated France was merely a transit nation for a lot of migrants and extra European cooperation was wanted to sort out unlawful immigration.

“I’ll … say very clearly that our safety forces are mobilised day and night time,” Macron stated throughout a go to to the Croatian capital Zagreb, promising “most mobilisation” of French forces, with reservists and drones watching the coast.

“However above all, we have to significantly strengthen cooperation … with Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and the European Fee.”


Wednesday’s incident was the worst of its variety on document within the waterway separating Britain and France, one of many world’s busiest transport lanes.

However migrants in a small makeshift camp within the outskirts of Dunkirk, close to the seashore, stated they’d maintain making an attempt to achieve Britain, regardless of the dangers.

“Yesterday is gloomy and it’s scary however we’ve got to go by boat, there isn’t a different means,” stated 28-year previous Manzar, a Kurd from Iran, huddled by a hearth alongside a number of buddies.

“Possibly it is harmful, perhaps we die, however perhaps it will likely be secure. We’ve got to attempt our likelihood. It is a threat, we already know it’s a threat,” stated the younger man, who left Iran six months in the past and arrived in France 20 days in the past, after strolling throughout Europe.

A broken inflatable dinghy and a sleeping bag abandonned by migrants are seen on the seashore close to Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Britain on Thursday repeated a suggestion to have joint British-French patrols off the French coast close to Calais.

Paris has resisted such calls and it’s unclear whether or not it’s going to change its thoughts 5 months earlier than a presidential election wherein migration and safety are necessary matters.

They’re additionally delicate points in Britain, the place Brexit campaigners instructed voters that leaving the European Union would imply regaining management of the nation’s borders. London has previously threatened to chop monetary assist for France’s border policing if Paris fails to stem the stream of migrants.

One smuggler arrested in a single day had purchased dinghies in Germany, and lots of cross by way of Belgium earlier than reaching France’s northern shores on their method to Britain, French officers stated.

EU Migration Commissioner Ylva Johansson stated she would speak to Darmanin in a while Thursday to supply monetary assist and help from the bloc’s border guard drive Frontex.


Rescue volunteers and rights teams stated such drowning incidents had been to be anticipated as smugglers and migrants take extra dangers to keep away from a rising police presence.

“To accuse solely the smugglers is to cover the accountability of the French and British authorities,” the Auberge de Migrants NGO stated. It and different NGOs pointed to an absence of authorized migration routes and added safety on the Eurotunnel undersea rail hyperlink, which has pushed migrants to attempt the perilous sea crossing.

“This a tragedy that we dreaded, that was anticipated, we had sounded the alarm,” stated Bernard Barron, head of the Calais area SNSM, a volunteer group which rescues folks at sea.

However Britain rejected one of many NGOs’ important calls for.

Offering a secure route for migrants to assert asylum from France would solely add to drag components encouraging folks to make harmful journeys, Johnson’s spokesman stated when requested about the opportunity of a secure technique of claiming asylum from France.

The variety of migrants crossing the Channel has surged to 25,776 to this point in 2021, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019, in accordance with the BBC, citing authorities knowledge.

Earlier than Wednesday’s catastrophe, 14 folks had drowned this 12 months making an attempt to achieve Britain, a French official stated. In 2020, seven folks died and two disappeared, whereas in 2019 4 died.

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Reporting by Ardee Napolitano in Calais, Lucien Libert in Zagreb, Alistair Smout, Paul Sandle and Kylie MacLellan in London, Richard Lough and Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris, Gabriel Baczynska in Brussels; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Modifying by Mike Collett-White, Timothy Heritage, Giles Elgood, William Maclean

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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