Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sudanese man, in his 20s, dies trying to cross the English Channel

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A Sudanese man in his 20s has died trying to cross the English Channel in freezing temperatures, French authorities say.

He went overboard when a boat ran into trouble shortly after taking off from the coast south of Boulogne in the early hours of Friday morning.

He was found unconscious by French rescue teams and taken ashore, where he was pronounced dead.

A manslaughter investigation is ongoing.

Around 30 people were rescued off Berck-sur-Mer, including several who were reportedly suffering from hypothermia.

In British waters, Border Force ships patrol the Kent coast for most of the day.

About 35 people were escorted ashore in Dover by immigration officers.

The man’s death comes after at least 27 people drowned in the deadliest crossing on record in November, including pregnant women and children.

So far this year, more than 450 people have made the life-threatening journey across the English Channel in small boats.

The Home Office is facing legal action over proposals to turn small boats back at sea, a tactic campaigners warn could endanger lives.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said it was “devastating” that one more person had died.

“Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones – who may not even know what happened,” he said.

He urged the government to reconsider plans to make access to Britain’s asylum system more difficult – calling for new, safe routes and a requirement to relocate 10,000 people a year.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, director of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International UK, described the man’s death as “avoidable”.

He slammed governments on both sides of the Channel for their “refusal … to look after the needs and rights of the people who are being forced to make these dangerous journeys”.

He added: “Unless drastically changed, the draconian Nationality and Borders Act now going through Parliament will continue to make life harder for people seeking asylum, while allowing smugglers and other abusers to continue to do so to benefit from this totally unacceptable situation.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “This tragic loss of life in France is devastating today and our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of the victim.

“It is sadly another reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and the importance of working closely with France to prevent people from making these dangerous crossings.”

“The government’s new immigration plan will fix the broken system to welcome people through safe and legal channels while preventing the crime that comes with it.”

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