Home Business France and Britain commerce blame after 27 die in migrant tragedy By...

France and Britain commerce blame after 27 die in migrant tragedy By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 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


By Ardee Napolitano and Alistair Smout

CALAIS, France/LONDON (Reuters) -France and Britain traded blame on Thursday after 27 individuals died making an attempt to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy, the worst accident of its type on report within the waterway separating the 2 international locations.

With relations fraught by years of stress over Brexit and immigration, a lot of the main focus was on who ought to bear accountability, even when either side vowed to work collectively to search out joint options.

“There may be unhealthy immigration administration (in Britain),” French Inside Minister Gerald Darmanin advised RTL radio, whereas calling on different European international locations, which migrants cross on their solution to French shores after which Britain, to do extra to assist.

“It is a global downside,” Darmanin stated. We inform our Belgian, German and British buddies they need to assist us battle traffickers who work at a global degree.” One smuggler arrested in a single day had purchased dinghies in Germany, he stated.

His British counterpart Priti Patel stated she can be having talks with Darmanin, hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the blame on France, saying: “Now we have had issue persuading a few of our companions, notably the French, to do issues in a approach that we expect the state of affairs deserves.”

In the meantime, rescue volunteers and rights teams stated the catastrophic drowning was 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 heightened safety on the Eurotunnel undersea rail hyperlink, which has pushed migrants to attempt to make the perilous sea crossing.

The Channel is likely one of the world’s busiest delivery lanes, the place currents are sturdy, the water is chilly and dinghies are sometimes overloaded.

“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 individuals at sea.

“The smugglers are increasingly more reckless, prison, launching at sea poor harmless individuals who need to attain England in any respect prices with out realizing the ocean.”


French Prime Minister Jean Castex was as a consequence of maintain a disaster assembly on Thursday morning, as authorities introduced {that a} complete of 5 suspected people-smugglers had been arrested in reference to the catastrophe.

Britain has repeated a proposal to have joint British-French patrols off the French coast close to Calais, from the place Britain may be seen on a transparent day and the place most migrants take to the water.

Paris has beforehand resisted such calls and it’s unclear if it would change its thoughts 5 months earlier than a presidential election during which migration and safety are key matters. London has prior to now threatened to chop monetary help for France’s border policing if it fails to stem the stream.

“We’re ready to supply help on the bottom we’re ready to supply assets,” Britain’s Immigration Minister Kevin Foster advised BBC TV. “We’re ready to supply, actually, individuals to go there and assist and help the French authorities.”

“We’re clear: we do not simply see this as a problem that France must cope with, however one which we need to work along with France and our wider European companions … to interrupt the enterprise mannequin of those gangs,” Foster stated.

Regaining management of Britain’s borders was a totem for Brexit campaigners forward of the 2016 referendum on EU membership.

Reuters witnessed one group of migrants rising from the sand dunes close to Calais earlier than piling into an inflatable dinghy. They had been seen touchdown hours later in Dungeness, southern England.

Earlier than Wednesday’s catastrophe, 14 individuals had drowned this 12 months making an attempt to make it to Britain, an area maritime prefecture official stated. In 2020, seven individuals died and two disappeared, whereas in 2019 4 died.