French politician blames UK for death of young Sudanese migrant
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A French politician has blamed Britain for the death of a young Sudanese migrant found on a French beach.
Pierre-Henri Dumont said the death was caused by Britain’s refusal to allow asylum claims to be made outside the UK.
He asked: “How many more tragedies does it need for the British to find an ounce of humanity?”
French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa said on Twitter that a 16-year-old Sudanese migrant had died on the same day that dozens more migrants attempted the dangerous crossing to the UK.
It comes as Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s newly appointed clandestine Channel threat commander, is expected to return to France on Thursday to continue discussions with officials in Paris and Calais in a bid to tackle the crisis.
The Bishop of Dover called for “definitive action” to protect those “desperate enough to risk their lives” in small boats.
Opposition MPs and charities criticised the Government’s handling of the situation with a call for Home Secretary Priti Patel to consider her position.
French authorities launched a search and rescue effort after another migrant, suffering from hypothermia, said his makeshift boat had capsized at sea and his companion who could not swim was missing and may still be in the water.
At 8am, border police were informed of the discovery of a body on the beach at Sangatte, just outside the port city of Calais.
Prosecutors in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer have launched an investigation into the death.
Mr Dumont, who represents the northern region of Pas-de-Calais in the French National Assembly, took aim at the British government over the death of the migrant.
In a post on Twitter discussing the incident, he said: “What we all feared happened that night.
“How many more tragedies does it need for the British to find an ounce of humanity?”
The inability to claim asylum in Great Britain without being physically present in the country “causes these tragedies”, he added.
He said Channel crossings had been increasing in recent weeks and claimed the migrants in Calais do not want to seek asylum in France and they refuse state support, preferring to “risk their lives” in rafts.
British “negligence” does not exonerate the French government from its own responsibilities, he said, adding that the migrants have nothing to do in Calais and they should be given protection by claiming asylum or returned to their country.
In the meantime, migrants and Calais residents are “suffering”, he added.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has pledged to make the route “unviable”, said the death was “an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life”.
“This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people,” she added.
Ms Schiappa also said the death highlights the need to tackle the smugglers.
“Immense sadness: A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant who disappeared in the sea last night was found dead in the beach in Sangatte this morning,” she tweeted.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The death of a 16-year-old child in the Channel is a tragedy. My thoughts are with his loved ones.
“This is a humanitarian crisis that needs a compassionate response.”
In a plea for compassion, the Bishop of Dover the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin asked: “How much worse does this have to get before we take definitive action to save lives and protect the dignity of people who have been pushed to take such desperate measures?”
Meanwhile, in Dover, children were among more than 50 migrants who arrived on boats on Wednesday morning.
More than 4,700 migrants have reached the UK by small boat this year, analysis by the PA news agency shows.
Meanwhile, Tory former minister Tim Loughton accused the French of a “lack of humanity” for allowing migrants to endanger their lives in Channel attempts.
He told Channel 4 News: “What is happening now is people who are getting into boats, in many cases paying £4,000 to people traffickers, are effectively queue-jumping genuine asylum seekers who we owe a debt to and can give a safe passage and a safe home to because they go through the proper processes.
“And frankly it is appalling that the French are allowing people to endanger their lives. That is where the lack of humanity is, I’m afraid.”