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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.

Go deeper

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Philanthropy in the age of crypto

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The best charities are increasingly effective. That's the clear message sent by Open Philanthropy, the think tank that doubles as the grant-making vehicle for Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna.

Why it matters: With tech and crypto wealth becoming a fast-growing part of the philanthropic pie, there's more of an emphasis than ever on effectiveness — what the newly-divorced Melinda French Gates, in her recent Giving Pledge update, characterizes as giving as "impactfully as possible."

5 hours ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.