By Isabel Ringrose
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2868

Blame racist Tory murderers for refugee drownings in Channel

Anti-racists say the drowning of six people was ‘the inevitable result of the Tories’ hateful policies’
Issue 2868
Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman

Prime minister Rishi Sunak and home secretary Suella Braverman (Picture: Number 10/Flickr)

Rishi Sunak, home secretary Suella Braverman and the whole of the Tory government have more blood on their hands. Six refugees drowned in the English Channel on Saturday morning because of Britain’s racist border regime. 

The shipwreck saw the second highest number of deaths due to the sinking of a refugee boat in the Channel. Around 50 other refugees were rescued.

French and British coastguards were called just after 4am to help the boat sinking off the French town of Sangatte. A volunteer on the rescue boats said the refugees were using shoes to get water out of their overcrowded and sinking boat. Another boat was also in difficulty, but all on board were rescued.

Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) said, “This is the inevitable result of the Tories’ hateful policies. Racist laws mean people die. We need a mass movement to say refugees are welcome.”

Five French ships, one helicopter and two British ships were involved in the rescue, but further details of the sinking are as yet unclear. In previous Channel deaths, British and French coastguards passed responsibility between each other and ignored desperate calls for help.

One of the victims is an Afghan man in his 20s. There are supposedly legal routes into Britain from Afghanistan. In reality, the Tories’ resettlement schemes have only helped British people living in Afghanistan, and Afghans who were already in Britain.

Saturday’s drownings followed coastguards rescuing 17 people in the Channel on Thursday. Four lifeboats from Dover, Ramsgate, Dungeness and Littlestone were called by HM Coastguard to assist.

Charity Care4Calais said, “It demonstrates once more the trauma so many refugees undergo when they attempt to cross the Channel on small boats.

“The appalling and unnecessary loss of life affirms yet again the need for safe passage. It will be reported as an almost inevitable accident, but the truth is anything but.”

Braverman said the deaths were a “tragic loss of life”. But those deaths are the direct result of her racist border policies designed to stop people entering Britain. 

And true to form, Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said, “We must stop these crossings and defeat the criminal people smugglers.”

People smugglers are only able to run their criminal enterprises because there are no safe routes into Britain. Racist immigration policies force refugees to use smugglers. The real criminals are the Tories—and a Labour frontbench keen to ride the Tories’ tailcoats and demonise refugees.

Anti-racists must fight against every anti-refugee policy—from shutting safe routes to forcing refugees onto prison ships, locking people in detention centres and sending people to Rwanda.

  • Emergency vigil: don’t let them drown – refugees welcome, Monday 14 August, 6pm, outside Downing street, London. 

  • Register for Stand Up To Racism’s conference on 21 October here. Details of SUTR’s protest at the Tory Party conference on Sunday 1 October in Manchester here.

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