Britain and France “completely blind” to tragedy, says the French NGO L’Auberge de Migrants.
The British and French governments are “completely blinding themselves” to the deaths of migrants in the Canal by blaming smugglers, a Calais-based humanitarian organization said.
A total of 27 people, including three children and a pregnant woman, died on Wednesday while trying to get into the UK on an inflatable boat from northern France.
The death toll, the highest ever for a single canal crossing, sparked a war of words between Britain and France over who should be held responsible for the tragedy.
Politicians on both sides responded by blaming the people smugglers for promising to take tough action against them.
But Maya Konforti, general secretary of L’Auberge de Migrants, said I The claim that smugglers are primarily responsible for the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea is a “lie”.
While describing smugglers as “unscrupulous” people who “benefit from refugees,” she said their existence was the result of decisions made by the UK and French governments and wider EU migration policies.
“There is only one reason for their presence and that is because the borders are closed and there are walls and patrols everywhere. They respond to a need, to the refugees’ need to find a safe place to build a life, ”she said.
Five people were arrested in connection with the capsizing. A total of 17 men, seven women, two teenagers and one girl died at sea. Two people, an Iraqi and a Somali, are said to have survived.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said they are recovering from extreme hypothermia and will be interviewed in due course, the BBC reports.
Ms. Konforti accused the authorities of being aware of the risks at the border and “never doing what is necessary to avoid it.
“We knew it was going to happen, it had to happen that a boat overturned or had a hole or the security patrols didn’t arrive in time or were even called … the writing was on the wall and that’s it.” So repulsive and such a source the anger for us. “
The Secretary General of the Calais-based organization called on all 27 EU Member States to do their part to tackle the crisis. She said one solution is to allow people to apply for asylum anywhere and from anywhere.
Regarding the fact that migrants are often people who flee their country for fear of persecution in their home country, she said: “The people of Calais do not want to go to the UK because they think it is paradise, but because it is their last Chance is.
“Saying goodbye is a big deal, you’re leaving your family behind, it’s going to cost you a lot of money to pay back, it’s not a fun trip.
“It’s a terrible journey and people are going to take it because they’re forced to.”
Ms. Konforti suggested that a group of, say, 300 people be sent to Dover every week to process their asylum applications.
“The more governments put up barriers, barbed wire, walls, patrols and everything else to close the border, the more dangerous it is for refugees to cross.”
This also makes it harder for smugglers to find a way around the system, and that in turn means charging more, which makes it riskier for those who pay it, she said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has urged France to accept British offer to patrol its border more to prevent further deaths.
France reportedly rejected such an offer previously on grounds of sovereignty, but when harrowing details of the capsizing became known on Thursday morning, President Emmanuel Macron asked Great Britain for “additional help”.