31 migrants drowned on Wednesday while attempting to reach the shores of the United Kingdom. The group was discovered in the English Channel, the passage between the UK and France.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Missing Migrants Project tragedy is the worst migrant drowning event in the English Channel since the organization began tracking the data in 2014.
The migrants were found off the coast of Calais and Dunkirk by fishermen who noticed their empty boat. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that there were 34 people on board the dinghy. 31 died, two survived, and one was still not accounted.
“There are two survivors … but their life is in danger, they are suffering from severe hypothermia,” Damanin said.
“It is a catastrophe for France, for Europe, for humanity, to see these people who are at the mercy of smugglers perish at sea.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed grief for the loss of life in the English Channel, saying that he was “shocked and appalled” by the tragedy.
“My thoughts and sympathies are with the victims and their families and it is an appalling thing that they have suffered. But this disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this way,” the PM said.
Johnson added that the UK would “use every power that we can, leave no stone unturned, to demolish the business proposition of the human traffickers and the gangsters.”
“We have to work with our French friends, with our European partners. I say to our partners across the Channel, now is the time for us all to work together to do everything we can to break these gangs who are literally getting away with murder,” he said.
Afghan refugees take Calabrian route to Italy
Afghan refugees attempting to find sanctuary in Europe washed up in the Calabria region of Southern Italy last week. The refugees, who are hoping to escape the present unrest in their home country at the hands of the Taliban, took an unusual route via Turkey to the shores of Italy.
Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, and Kurdish families with more resources at their disposal have begun shelling out large amounts of money to travel from Turkey on discrete sailboats that evade the authorities’ suspicions. The sailboats are typically operated by Ukrainian smugglers working together with the Turkish or Italian mafias.
These routes are known as taking “1st class,” but the experience is often a harrowing one for those on board. Passengers describe being crowded on the boats with 100 other people as they ran out of food and hydration.
This passageway delivers refugees to the southern tip of Italy’s “boot” instead of Sicily. It has steadily become a more commonly used option by refugees in 2021, and now comprises 16% of migrant routes to Italy.