Revelations on the sinking of migrants in the Channel: associations say "their dismay"


Several migrant aid associations, including Cimade, expressed their "dismay" on Monday after the revelations deemed "unbearable" by the newspaper Le Monde on the conditions of the shipwreck that occurred in November 2021 in the Channel where 27 people perished.

"It is dismaying to see that there has been a lot of energy given by both sides, French and British, to demonstrate that it was up to the other party to take charge of the rescue and rescue", commented Lydie Arbogast, responsible for European affairs at the Cimade, an association supporting migrants and refugees founded in 1939 within Protestant youth movements.

It denounces "the militarization of this border" while France and the United Kingdom sealed a new agreement on Monday against migrant crossings in the Channel.

In its edition dated Monday, Le Monde affirms that the passengers of a "small boat" which sank on the night of November 23 to 24, 2021 in the English Channel called the French authorities fifteen times to ask them help. Without success.

The newspaper, which says it has consulted elements of the judicial investigation carried out in Paris, also suggests that the French rescuers waited for the castaways to drift into English waters.

In a telephone conversation with CROSS, of which AFP was aware, a migrant said: "Help please (...) I'm in the water". "Yes, but you are in English waters sir", replies his interlocutor. “No, not English waters, French waters, please can you come quickly,” he begs again, before the conversation is cut off.

“Ah well, don't you hear, you won't be saved. 'I have my feet in the water', well, I didn't ask you to leave,” said the operator.

The transcripts of conversations, however, show that the CROSS contacted the British Coast Guard on several occasions.

“We are horrified. What this describes is the complete lack of coordination of rescue operations at sea and their trivialization, which means that no one has taken the measure of the danger for people, "commented Delphine Rouilleault, Director General of France Terre d'Asile, which regrets that the agreement between Paris and London does not raise the question of coordination.

“The content of the published exchanges is unbearable”, judged the association Utopia 56, which helps exiled people. "The families of the victims demand that France and the United Kingdom recognize their responsibilities in this tragedy".

“The CROSS Gris Nez teams do everything they can to save human lives on a daily basis, that's their credo. For having spent a night with them, they have all my support,” Wing Vice-Admiral Marc Véran, maritime prefect for the Channel and the North Sea, told AFP, adding that “only (the investigation) will make it possible to establish the facts" on "(these) sad events".

Heard as witnesses at the end of 2021 by the investigators, several members of the CROSS underlined the increase in the number of rescue operations and the lack of means to ensure them.

“The system put in place by the State is as follows, two nautical means and one air means, while there are sometimes 30 to 50 boats on the water so it is largely insufficient”, thus affirmed in December last Nicolas H., administrator of maritime affairs.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

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Summary of news for September 22, 2023

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