Media Reveals Content of French Coast Guard's Mayday Call After Migrant Boat Capsized in Channel

© REUTERS / Gonzalo FuentesA group of more than 40 migrants with children get on an inflatable dinghy, as they leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel, near Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021
A group of more than 40 migrants with children get on an inflatable dinghy, as they leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel, near Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.11.2021
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The International Organisation for Migration called Wednesday's accident that claimed the lives of 27 people the deadliest in the Channel since 2014. It occurred amid discord between France and Britain over ways to tackle illegal migration, with London blaming Paris for not doing enough to deal with the issue.
The French Coast Guard made a mayday call on the day a migrant boat capsized in the English Channel, Sky News has reported. According to the recording the outlet obtained, the call was made by a female member of the Coast Guard located at Cap Gris-Nez in the department of Pas-de-Calais.

"Mayday relay, mayday relay. This is Gris-Nez emergency. Approximately 15 men overboard. All ships in this area are requested to proceed to this area, to take contact and report any information to the Gris-Nez emergency coordinating this operation", the radio operator said as per Sky News.

Charles Devos, regional manager of a French organisation that saves lives at sea, says Wednesday's tragedy, which claimed the lives of 27 people, including three children, could have occurred due to overloading or the vessel breaking down.

"I saw the blow-up boat had really deflated. Was it a valve that came loose or did it hit an object? You never know but I don't think it was a collision. Boats that transport 20 people, we find them with around 50 people on them", he said.

Mr Devos described the accident as "traumatic" and "inexplicable" and likened it to the disheartening events seen in the movie the "Titanic".

"It's very, very shocking, when you saw all these people plunged into the water, drowning, with no means of being able to be rescued. Unfortunately we were only able to recover the dead people", he said.

They Are Human Beings, Not Political Footballs

The boat capsize, which the International Organisation for Migration called the deadliest in the Channel since 2014, has reignited discord between France and the United Kingdom, with both nations seemingly blaming each other for the accident. In July, London and Paris signed an agreement on assistance in tackling illegal immigration, with the UK paying its ally £54 million ($72.4 million) to help combat migrant crossings.

However, since the deal was signed Britain has repeatedly accused France of not doing enough to prevent migrants arriving in France from later crossing into Britain. Paris, for its part, said London should deter people from entering the country in the first place.

According to local media outets, over 25,000 migrants have come to the United Kingdom this year, a three-fold increase compared to the number of illegal arrivals last year.

Following the tragedy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron in which he outlined several steps to prevent such accidents in the future:
striking an agreement on bilateral returns and commence talks on a similar deal between the UK and the European Union;
joint patrols;
deployment of more advanced technology to detect boats;
airborne surveillance and reciprocal maritime patrols in each other's waters;
deepening the work of the countries’ intelligence cells.
Home Secretary Priti Patel made a similar offer to French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin, stressing that it would be impossible to tackle illegal migration without close cooperation between both sides.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has since harshly criticised UK PM Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron for engaging in a blame game, emphasising that both countries should address the root causes of migration.

"Those seeking refuge from dreadful conditions are human beings, not political footballs. They're driven to smugglers out of desperation and lack of humanitarian routes. This, and root causes, need (to be) addressed if such tragedies aren't to be endlessly repeated", she said.

Her statement echoed that made by human rights organisations, which said that those seeking asylum in Europe are fleeing war and terror. The people who cross the Channel mainly come from African and Middle Eastern nations, many of which are torn by war. These include Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, and Yemen.
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