Pro-refugee charities have called for "safe and legal" passage into the UK following the deaths of two children and two adults after their boat capsized in the English Channel on Tuesday.
Clare Moseley, the founder of refugee crisis charity Care4Calais, said the tragic incident should serve as a “wake-up call” for UK and French leaders.
"We are grieving for the victims, we stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families and friends", she said. “It is cruel and horrifying that, this time, young children are among the victims".
She urged British and French authorities to "provide a safe and legal process" through which refugees could have their UK asylum claims heard as a way to end the "terrifying, dangerous sea crossings and stop tragedy striking again".
Her push for further legal routes to safety were echoed by charity Save the Children, who said in a statement that the "tragic news must be a wake-up call for both London and Paris to come up with a joint plan that ensures the safety of vulnerable children and families".
“The English Channel must not become a graveyard for children", the organisation said.
All children deserve to be safe from harm.— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) October 28, 2020
The British and French governments must work together to expand safe and legal routes for desperate families fleeing conflict, persecution, and poverty.
The English Channel must not become a graveyard for children. https://t.co/DEGMEMLONH
While UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims Britain has offered “every support” to the cross-Channel investigation into the “terrible incident”, France has repeatedly accused Britain of not doing enough to provide safe passage.
Following the death of a young Sudanese migrant whose body was discovered on a French beach after his makeshift boat collapsed while trying to reach the UK in August, National Assembly politician Pierre-Henri Dumont criticised the British government for its lack of "humanity".
“How many more tragedies does it need for the British to find an ounce of humanity?”, he said in a tweet.
In a follow-up post, he said that the migrants refuse to take French state support which leads to them risking the perilous journey.
Les migrants présents à Calais ne demandent pas l’asile en France.— Pierre-Henri Dumont (@phdumont) August 19, 2020
Ils refusent l’accompagnement proposé par l’Etat dans des centres dédiés, préférant risquer leur vie sur des rafiots.
Depuis plusieurs semaines, les squats et les traversées se multiplient à #Calais #circo6207.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has pushed the narrative that rather than rejecting financial aid, refugees feel the need to endanger their lives to get to Britain due to racism and discrimination faced in France.
Meanwhile, back in May, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage took aim against the French Navy for "escorting illegal immigrant boats into UK waters for collection by our Border Force".
Priti Patel and Home Office say the migrant crisis is being dealt with.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 16, 2020
The real truth is they have totally given up and the French continue to dump illegal boats into British waters months after I first exposed them.
This issue is not going away in the minds of voters. pic.twitter.com/6MEnHPXKQB
While violent attacks by French border authorities against migrants have been reported, refugee camps in the Calais "jungle" torched, as well as agreements with the UK intelligence units to crack down on smuggling have taken place, Westminster has itself acknowledged its own policies as counter-productive.
In an official report by MPs, the government was warned that restrictive policies “pushing migrants to take more dangerous routes” across the English Channel.
“A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups”, the report said.
A five-year-old, an eight-year-old, as well as two adults, are among those who died on Tuesday morning after their vessel sunk off the coast of Dunkirk while trying to cross the channel from France and the UK, authorities revealed.
According to the French authorities, 18 people were taken to hospital with hypothermia while searches continued for others who may have been lost at sea.