The Channel’s Deadliest Migrant Boat Tragedy kills around 30 people.
At least 31 migrants perished on Wednesday when their boat drowned off the northern French coast on their way to England, the biggest accident since the Channel became a hotspot for illegal crossings.
President Emmanuel Macron pledged that France would not allow the Channel to become a “cemetery” and convened an emergency meeting of European ministers to address the problem.
“The core ideals of Europe — humanism, respect for each person’s dignity — are in grief,” Macron added.
The tragedy, which is the largest single loss of life since at least 2018, when migrants began crossing the Channel in large numbers by boat, comes as tensions between London and Paris rise over the huge number of people crossing.
After the boat sank off the coast of Calais, prosecutors launched a manslaughter investigation. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the arrest of four alleged human traffickers suspected of being personally involved in the tragic journey in a long inflatable boat.
Only two survivors had been found, Darmanin informed reporters in Calais, and both of their lives were in jeopardy. Five women and one young girl, he added, were among those killed. The migrants’ nationality was not immediately apparent.
Prime Minister Jean Castex’s office said that a crisis meeting will be held early on Thursday.
After a fisherman raised the alarm, three helicopters and three boats scoured the region, revealing dead and people unconscious in the water, according to French officials.
According to authorities, the dead were among roughly 50 persons on board a ship that sailed from Dunkirk to the east of Calais.
Following a crisis meeting with senior authorities, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated he was “shocked, outraged, and deeply saddened” by the loss of life at sea.
He also claimed Britain had “difficulties persuading some of our allies, particularly the French, to do things in the way that the situation merits,” underscoring the tensions between London and Paris.
Britain has asked France to take stricter measures to prevent migrants from making the journey.
The dispute has exacerbated post-Brexit tensions between Britain and France, which are already strained due to a disagreement over fishing rights.
“Of course, Britain must reply,” Darmanin answered, advocating for “a very harsh coordinated international response.”
The Channel, according to Pierre Roques of the Auberge des Migrants NGO in Calais, risks becoming as dangerous as the Mediterranean, which has seen a significantly higher toll of migrants crossing.
“People are dying in this place.” The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.