"France will not let the English Channel become a cemetery"

At least 31 migrants died Wednesday in the sinking of their boat off Calais, a drama as terrible as it has never been seen before, which sparked shock waves in Paris and London after several weeks of tension.

France will not let the English Channel become a cemetery“French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday, announcing the death of at least 31 migrants in what Prime Minister Jean Castex described as”tragedy“.

We are all moved by this tragedy which strikes everyone in their privacy and in their values“, also declared Emmanuel Macron, expressing his”compassion” and the “unconditional support from France“to the families of the victims.

Emergency meeting

The head of state also demanded “an emergency meeting of European ministers concerned by the migration challenge“and assured that”everything will be done to find and condemn those responsible“of this shipwreck.

He calls into question the “networks of smugglers who, by exploiting misery and distress, endanger human lives and ultimately decimate families“. Four smugglers suspected of being”directly linked“with the sinking were also arrested, said the French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin in the evening.

Dismantle the smuggling networks

France acts, in conjunction with Great Britain, to dismantle the networks of smugglers” and “since the beginning of the year, thanks to the mobilization of 600 police and gendarmes, 1,552 smugglers have been arrested on the North coast and 44 smugglers networks dismantled“, affirmed the French president, adding that”7,800 migrants were rescued“.

Despite this action, 47,000 attempted crossings have taken place since January 1“, according to him. “If we do not step up our efforts today, other tragedies will happen again“, he warns. For that,”we must speed up the dismantling of criminal networks linked to Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany“.

Boris Johnson’s reaction

Shocked, revolted and deeply saddened“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted”Do more“with France to discourage illegal Channel crossings.

We had difficulty persuading some of our partners, in particular the French, to act up to the situation“, he declared on Sky News at the end of a meeting of crisis, pointing out the Franco-British disagreements.

After weeks of tension on the migration issue, London and Paris had recently 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, a record.

Open investigation

The Dunkirk prosecutor’s office announced to AFP the opening of an investigation for “assistance with entry to irregular stay in an organized group” and “aggravated manslaughter“.

The drama unfolded on a “long boat“, a fragile inflatable boat, whose flexible bottom tends to fold up when it takes on water and is overloaded, we learned from rescuers.

The use of these particularly dangerous and poor quality boats has become more and more frequent since this summer.


►►► Read also : Shipwreck of migrants in the Channel: the death toll rises to at least 31, four suspected smugglers arrested


Attempts to migrate across the Channel on board small boats have doubled in the past three months, the maritime prefect of the Channel and the North Sea, Philippe Dutrieux, warned last Friday.

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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