France and UK engage in blame game over English Channel tragedy | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW


At least 27 individuals making an attempt to hunt refuge in the United Kingdom died Wednesday after their boat capsized in the English Channel, simply off the northern French port of Calais.

According to French authorities, three younger kids had been amongst those that misplaced their lives at sea.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the tragedy was the “largest loss of life” since 2014, when the group started accumulating knowledge about lacking migrants in the channel.

But this catastrophe has escalated right into a political spat between France and the UK, with each nations squabbling over who ought to bear duty.

“We’ve had difficulties persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves,” mentioned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, talking to journalists at Downing Street on Thursday.

But French President Emmanuel Macron urged British authorities to share duty. According to the Elysee, in a telephone name with the British prime minister, Macron mentioned he anticipated full cooperation and that the scenario shouldn’t be used “for political purposes.”

‘Blame game will not remedy the disaster’

British Labour politician Alfred Dubs, who sits with the opposition, mentioned the French have a proper to be fed up.

“You can’t shout at them, then expect them to cooperate, like the British government do — that’s disastrous. By the noise that politicians are making here, it looks like we are taking them [the refugees] all, but in reality, the French are taking many more,” he advised DW.

Mathilda Della Torre, founding father of Conversations from Calais, a challenge documenting conversations between volunteers and refugees in the camps in Calais, mentioned this diplomatic battle has dehumanized the scenario.

“People continue to undertake this dangerous journey to seek asylum because they do not have safer options of doing so. Both the UK and France have created this tragedy. Blood is in their hands. This blame game won’t solve the crisis,” she advised DW.

“The people who died have also been dehumanized with mainstream media and politicians referring to them in terms of numbers crossing the channel. We have to put a face to the people and focus on their stories and lives instead of referring to them as threats arriving at borders,” she added.

Speaking to MPs in the British Parliament, British Home Secretary Priti Patel acknowledged this and mentioned she would additionally ask media retailers to replicate on their use of dehumanizing language to explain the individuals who drowned in the channel.

People with face masks on, on a boat

Some migrants are rescued by Border Force boats and taken to the UK

Blaming smugglers the answer?

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, a French fisherman raised the alarm when he noticed immobile our bodies floating in the water simply off the coast of northern France.

Search and rescue missions instantly arrived at the scene, and the public prosecutor’s workplace in Lille mentioned two males survived the catastrophe and had been being handled at a hospital in Calais. They added {that a} legal investigation had additionally been launched to search out the smugglers concerned.

“Those responsible for the drama which took place yesterday in the channel are the smugglers, who for a few thousand euros promise El Dorado in England,” mentioned French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, talking to French media RTL on Thursday. “The smugglers are criminals, this tragedy reminds us, painfully.”

Priti Patel shared an identical view. “It serves as the starkest possible reminder of the dangers of these channel crossings organized by ruthless criminal gangs,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bram Frouws, head of the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) monitoring group, defined that such a response feeds right into a militarized narrative.

“If you if you listen to the statements we’re hearing from Boris Johnson, for example, or from Priti Patel, they call it human trafficking. They’re talking about ruthless criminal gangs. But they’re conflating migrant smuggling and human trafficking when the two concepts are very different; this is often done deliberately to justify a highly securitized response,” he advised DW.

“If smugglers were involved in yesterday’s boat tragedy, we have to arrest them but that is only part of the response. It seems it’s the main focus in the current response, but the solution is bigger than just trying to address how people got to the UK from France,” he added.

Catherine Woollard, the director of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), shared an identical view. “Smugglers are a symptom not a cause in this migration crisis,” she advised DW.

“Many refugees, unfortunately, rely on smugglers because they’re not given the option of safe pathways to seek refuge. Both the UK and the EU have to prioritize facilitating safe and legal pathways for people to claim asylum,” she mentioned.

Migrants onboard a Border Force rescue boat line up to disembark at Dover harbour

Migrants continued to make the harmful crossing on Thursday, regardless of the tragedy

More border patrols?

While protests have erupted in each the UK and France condemning the disaster in the channel, Patel mentioned France ought to take extra duty in deterring migrant boats from leaving Calais.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons she additionally mentioned the UK would cooperate by providing joint patrols as an answer.”I’ve literally just spoken again with my French counterpart, Minister Darmanin, and I’ve once again reached out and made my offer very clear to France in terms of joint France and UK cooperation, joint patrols to prevent these dangerous journeys from taking place,” she mentioned.

DW’s Brigit Mass, reporting from the UK mentioned, “The French don’t accept this. The mayor of Calais for example says the fault lies with Boris Johnson who doesn’t have the courage to assume responsibilities in his country.”

But ECRE’s Woollard argued that border patrols wouldn’t remedy the downside.

“Externalizing migration management with border patrols and asking another country to take responsibility is not the solution. After Brexit, the UK left the Dublin agreement making it harder for the country to cooperate with European nations. But cooperation with respect to search and rescue missions along the channel is important between France, UK, Belgium, and the other nations along the channel to prevent further tragedies,” she advised DW.

Despite Wednesday’s catastrophe, boats continued to reach in the UK port of Dover from France on Thursday, based on British media. 

According to a current report by the UK’s Refugee Council, between January 2020 and May 2021, 91% of individuals got here from 10 international locations the place human rights abuses and persecution are frequent. These embody Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Yemen.

“Many people are keen to migrate to the UK since they speak the language and might also have family there. They also come from countries like Iraq which have historic links to the UK. Moreover, the harsh living conditions in the camps of Calais and police brutality pushes many of them to leave France,” Mathilda Della Torre of Conversation from Calais advised DW.

“It is important for the UK and the EU to improve asylum conditions. Many of these people are those fleeing conflict and need protection,” she added. 

“Countries need to work on developing humanitarian visas which will give people the option of applying for asylum so that they don’t have to go through treacherous journeys. The political battle has to stop.”

Edited by: Stephanie Burnett





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