Sunak expresses sorrow over migrant deaths in the Channel
The new incident occurred a day after Sunak announced plans to toughen the laws to stop the boats crossing the Channel.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looks down as he leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on November 30, 2022. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed sorrow on Wednesday (14) after four people died following an incident involving a small migrant boat in the English Channel between Britain and France.
“I’m sure the whole House will share my sorrow at the capsizing of a small boat in the Channel in the early hours of this morning and the tragic loss of human life,” Sunak told parliament.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected and our tributes to those involved in the extensive rescue operation.”
Home secretary Suella Braverman, whose ministry oversees migration policy, put the blame firmly on the trafficking gangs.
“Crossing the channel in unseaworthy vessels is a lethally dangerous endeavour,” she told parliament.
“It is for this reason above all that we are working so hard to destroy the business model of the people smugglers: evil, organised criminals who treat human beings as cargo.”
Braverman had recently called the wave of arrivals an “invasion”, drawing an angry response from Albanian prime minister Edi Rama.
The refugee charity Care4Calais accused the government of doing nothing to prevent migrant deaths, which it said were “wholly unnecessary and preventable”.
“By failing to act, our government has blood on their hands,” the charity said in a statement.
Migrants had suffered horrors such as conflicts, human rights abuses and torture, it said.
“They have been brave and resilient enough to escape and survive incredible journeys to come here and ask for our help. And yet we deny them.”
Lifeboats, helicopters and rescue teams working with the French and British navies responded to the incident on Wednesday, which took place as immigration to Britain organised by people-trafficking criminal gangs has become in priority issue for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government.
“At 0305 (GMT) today, authorities were alerted to an incident in the Channel concerning a migrant small boat in distress,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.
“After a coordinated search and rescue operation led by HM Coastguard, it is with regret that there have been four confirmed deaths as a result of this incident.”
An investigation was underway, the spokesperson said.
The incident occurred just over a year after 27 people died while attempting to cross the sea in an inflatable dinghy in November 2021, in the worst recorded accident of its kind in the Channel.
According to Sunak, Britain’s “generosity” was being abused by people arriving illegally. Critics argue that while official routes exist for people to arrive in Britain from Ukraine and Hong Kong, there are no easy ways for people to apply to come to Britain from countries such as Afghanistan and Syria.
Data compiled by the Missing Migrants Project showed 205 migrants had been recorded dead or missing in the English Channel since 2014.