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at least twenty migrants died in the sinking of a boat in the English Channel

The Channel was particularly deadly on Wednesday, November 24, when at least twenty migrants died in the sinking of their boat, off Calais. This is the deadliest accident since the surge in 2018 of migratory crossings in the face of the growing lockdown of the port of Calais and Eurotunnel, used until then by migrants trying to reach England.

Prime Minister Jean Castex regretted a « Tragedy » Wednesday. « My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery », added Mr. Castex in a message posted on Twitter, ensuring follow « The situation in real time ». The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, said, also on Twitter, get there.

Rescue operations continued into the late afternoon. According to the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea, three helicopters and three boats are participating in the research.

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31,500 migrants have left France via the Channel since the start of the year

“Around 2 pm, a fisherman reported the discovery of about fifteen bodies floating off Calais. A building of the National Navy recovered several bodies, including five dead people and five unconscious, according to a provisional report ”, detailed the Ministry of the Interior. The Dunkirk prosecutor’s office has also announced to Agence France-Presse (AFP) the opening of an investigation into « Assistance with entry to irregular stay in an organized group » and « Aggravated manslaughter ».

Attempts at migratory crossings of the Channel on board small boats have doubled in the past three months, warned, on November 19, the maritime prefect of the Channel and the North Sea, Philippe Dutrieux. As of November 20, 31,500 migrants had left the coast since the start of the year and 7,800 migrants had been rescued, he said. A trend, he had noticed, which has not abated despite the winter temperatures. According to London 22,000 migrants made the crossing over the first ten months of the year.

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M. Dutrieux explains this phenomenon in particular by « The cynicism of the organizations which are behind these passages, which throw migrants into the water because it is a business that pays well ». Before this sinking, the death toll since the beginning of 2021 stood at three dead and four missing in Channel crossings. In 2020, six people were killed and three others were missing. Four deaths were recorded in 2019.

London and Paris have agreed to strengthen their cooperation to try to stop these departures after a rise in tension in the wake of the arrival, on November 11, of 1,185 migrants on the English coast.

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