Socialist Worker

Refugees drown in Channel as a result of killer border regime

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2728

Home secretary Pritui Patel (left) and Dover MP Natalie Elphicke have made it harder for refugees to enter Britain

Home secretary Priti Patel (left) and Dover MP Natalie Elphicke have made it harder for refugees to enter Britain (Pic: @NatalieElphicke on Twitter)


Four people, including two children, have died after the small boat in which they had set out from France to try and reach Britain sank in the English Channel.

One man drowned when the boat sank on Tuesday. A woman and two children aged five and eight died after they were pulled from the water with 14 other people. There are fears at least one child may still be missing.

All those who died are the victims of racist murder by the British state and the European Union’s (EU) border regimes.

Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up To Racism, said "the appalling toll of refugee deaths must stop. The Tories have to dismantle their immigration regime which is killing people.

"Instead last week the government rejected an amendment to its immigration bill that tried to ensure one of the few remaining safe and legal routes for children to travel to Britain to seek asylum remains open."

Put forward by the former child refugee Lord Dubs, the clause aimed to ensure that rights to family reunion will continue after the Brexit transition period.

Charity Care4Calais said, "Everyone here in Calais is utterly devastated by today's news.

"We are grieving for the victims, we stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families and friends. This unnecessary loss of life has to stop.

"No one should ever feel they have to get into a fragile craft and risk their lives crossing the Channel, least of all vulnerable children.

"Refugees feel pushed to take these risks because of the policies of the French and British governments. Living in miserable conditions on the streets of Calais, hounded by the police, and left with no clear, legal process to have their UK asylum cases heard, refugees feel they have no other option but to take huge risks to make it to Britain, and some pay with their lives."

The boat was carrying at least 18 refugees, mainly people who have fled from Iraq and Iran. Outrageously, French authorities put six refugees pulled from the sea into police custody.

Death

This horror follows the death of Abdulfatah Hamdallah in similar circumstances earlier this year.

An avalanche of hypocrisy came from the  Tories on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson said it had been a "terrible incident". Home secretary Priti Patel said it was "tragic news and I will do everything I can to stop callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people".

Tory MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke hypocritically said that it’s “terrible that tragedy has struck in the Channel again”. 

"People traffickers have no regard for life, no matter how old or young,” she said. 

But it is the Tory government that is to blame for refugee deaths in the channel.

Traffickers 

People traffickers are small-time criminals whose business model depends on Britain and the EU’s border regime. If refugees had safe and legal routes, they wouldn’t be forced to turn to people traffickers.

A further crackdown on refugees will not stop people trying to make it to Britain—it will force them to take even more dangerous routes. 

The refugees trapped at Britain’s border in northern France have fled war, poverty and dictatorship.

Those fleeing Iraq and Iran have had their lives blighted by Western imperialism. The US and Britain’s invasion and occupation of Iraq killed a million people and unleashed a wave of destruction across the region.

And Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran have made life under the dictatorship harder for millions of people.

Then in France they face repression from the police and the political authorities.

The only solution is to open the border and let refugees come to Britain using safe and legal routes.


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