Nov 25, 2021 - World

At least 27 dead after migrant boat capsizes in English Channel

Migrant rights protesters with a sign reading "30 years of announcements, of inhuman and degrading treatment" on November 24 in Calais, France.
Protesters campaigning for migrants' rights rally in Calais, northern France, on Wednesday night following the sinking of a migrant boat crossing the English Channel. Photo: Francois Lo Presti/AFP via Getty Images

The British and French governments have pledged to increase joint efforts to stop migrant crossings after at least 27 migrants died when their U.K.-bound inflatable boat capsized in the English Channel Wednesday, per Euronews.

The big picture: French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told reporters five women and a girl were among the dead in what's one of the worst migrant boat tragedies to occur on the busy shipping route between the U.K. and France. Four people were missing, presumed drowned.

What's happening: Darmanin said four suspected human traffickers had been arrested in connection with the tragedy, that saw the "extremely fragile" boat deflate before sinking. It was not immediately clear where the drowning victims were from.

  • A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement that he and French President Emmanuel Macron had "agreed on the urgency of stepping up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings and to do everything possible to stop the gangs responsible for putting people's lives at risk."

Yes, but: Despite the talk of cooperation, British and French officials have traded barbs over the matter, with Johnson renewing calls for France to agree to joint patrols along its coast and Macron warning U.K. officials not to politicize the issue, the Guardian notes.

Flashback: British and French officials issued a joint statement on Nov. 15 that agreed to "strengthen operational cooperation further" in order to reach the goal of preventing "100% of crossings" of the channel by migrants.

What they're saying: Macron said in a statement, "France won't let the Channel become a graveyard."

  • Johnson said the disaster "underscores how dangerous it is to cross the channel in this way."

What to watch: Johnson has convened a meeting of his government's crisis committee, COBRA, to discuss the matter, Euronews reports.

  • Macron was holding talks with his government ministers on Thursday morning. He has also called for an emergency European meeting and was seeking increased funding for Frontex, the EU’s border agency.
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