Refugee charities have warned ‘more people will die’ unless more safe routes to the UK are created after six people died in the English Channel yesterday.
The number of people rescued from the doomed boat has been increased to 59 overnight – but six people lost their lives after the overloaded boat got into difficulty near Sangatte, off the coast of France.
The government is under renewed pressure to tackle small boat Channel crossings in light of the deaths, which have been called an ‘appalling and preventable tragedy’.
French and British coastguards were involved in the rescue, and it’s thought the boat which sunk was one of a number which set off in hopes of reaching the UK coast on Saturday.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Conservative backbencher and former party chairman Sir Jake Berry said: ‘We must put a stop to the vile people smugglers who trade in human misery and whose actions result in the loss of life.’
Meanwhile shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said action to deter criminal gangs facilitating the journeys was ‘desperately’ necessary.
Care4Calais said the incident was an ‘appalling and preventable tragedy’ while the Refugee Council warned ‘more people will die’ unless more safe routes to the UK are created.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman described the incident as a ‘tragic loss of life’ and said she had chaired a meeting with Border Force officials later on Saturday.
It comes after dozens of asylum seekers were removed from the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge.
Senior Conservative backbencher David Davis said the ‘startling incompetence’ of the Home Office had been revealed after all 39 on board the 500-capacity vessel were disembarked due to the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water supply.
However, ministers intend to push on with plans to hire more barges to house asylum seekers, as well as student halls and former office blocks.
The people who had been on the Bibby Stockholm, which had been billed as a cheaper alternative to hotels, are now back being housed in alternative accommodation.
The Home Office has said the health and welfare of asylum seekers ‘remains of the utmost priority’ and that the evacuation took place as a precautionary measure with all protocol and advice followed.
Home Office figures show 755 crossed the Channel in small boats on Thursday – the highest daily number so far this year – confirming the total since 2018 has passed 100,000.
Some 343 people in six boats were detected crossing on Friday, taking the provisional total for the year so far to more than 16,000.
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