We salute the British! French thank UK for Channel migrant rescue efforts

, We salute the British! French thank UK for Channel migrant rescue efforts, The Evepost News
, We salute the British! French thank UK for Channel migrant rescue efforts, The Evepost News

Annick Girardin, the French Sea Minister, put out a message of thanks on Twitter, writing: “A new tragedy has hit the Channel. I salute the British patrol boat, the SNSM patrol boat, the three helicopters, one of which is Belgian and one British, which are working to assist the five people still missing.” On Wednesday evening, Downing Street announced that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron had agreed to step up joint efforts to prevent the crossings and stop the gangs of people smugglers putting people’s lives at risk.

Immigration Compliance Minister Tom Pursglove confirmed that the Prime Minister had renewed a previous offer to send UK police and Border Force officers to mount joint patrols with the French.

He said Wednesday’s deaths showed the two countries need to deepen their cooperation when dealing with the issue.

This comes as at least 27 people are thought to have drowned after attempting to cross the English Channel.

The International Organisation for Migration said it was the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014.

According to France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin, five women and a girl are among the dead.

One of the women was later reported to have been pregnant.

Speaking about the tragedy, Mr Darmanin said: “Those responsible for the tragedy which took place yesterday in the Channel are the smugglers, who for a few thousand euros promise Eldorado in England.

“The smugglers are criminals, this tragedy reminds us, painfully.”

READ MORE: Michel Barnier calls on UK to take on ALL migrants crossing Channel

Chief executive of the Refugee Council Enver Solomon questioned: “How many tragedies like this must we see before the government fundamentally changes its approach by committing to an ambitious expansion of safe routes for those men, women and children in desperate need of protection?”

, We salute the British! French thank UK for Channel migrant rescue efforts, The Evepost News

He added: “Every day, people are forced to flee their homes through no fault of their own.

“Now is the time to end the cruel and ineffective tactic of seeking to punish or push away those who try and find safety in our country.”

The tragedy unfolded after a fishing boat sounded the alarm on Wednesday afternoon following a sighting of several people at sea off the coast of Calais.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight about co-operation between France and Britain over the issue, Mr Pursglove said: “It is the case that in the past we have offered to host and to help with joint patrols.

“I think that could be invaluable in helping to address this issue. I really do hope that the French will reconsider that offer.”

Downing Street has said it agreed to “keep all options on the table”.

The deaths occurred after a small inflatable dinghy capsized in the Channel, with Mr Darmanin comparing the fragile dinghy carrying to migrants to “a pool you blow up in your garden”.

Fishermen at the scene reported seeing more than a dozen bodies motionless in the sea.

Identification of the victims is ongoing.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.