Families Together Statement on Channel Tragedy

November 25, 2021

Yesterday we received the devastating news that a small boat with 34 people had capsized in the channel. 27 of those on board lost their lives. 2 people are in a critical condition and at least one person is still missing. These are men, women and children who were trying to reach the UK to find safety. This was completely avoidable. This is not the first time innocent lives have been lost in the channel, with numerous incidents reported over the last few years.

Today, we are thinking of all of those who have lost their lives in the channel whilst trying to find safety. We are thinking of all of their families and friends, who have lost loved ones.

Last night highlights once again the desperate situation people fleeing to find safety find themselves in. The danger and risk involved in these journeys is well-known and a lack of safe routes to safety is behind them. Organisations have warned the government that a tragedy of this scale was likely. Until we have adequate safe routes of passage to the UK, people will continue to be forced to risk their lives. We need safe routes and we need them now.

The proposals outlined in the Nationality and Borders bill do not increase safe routes. Instead, they will criminalise and punish those who come to the UK via irregular routes. The proposals will put men, women and children at further risk, at further harm. The government falsely claims those who are crossing the channel are economic migrants. 98% of people who arrive after crossing the Channel in a small boat make a claim for asylum with the majority of those people being granted asylum. Therefore, it is undeniable that people crossing the channel are refugees in need of protection, in need of safety.

No one chooses to cross the channel, the busiest shipping lane in the world unless they have no other option. They have fled their home countries fleeing war, violence, persecution, and have undertaken unimaginable journeys to find safety in the UK. They have risked their lives to find safety. They deserved so much better than this.

We are calling on the government to urgently bring forward proposals to increase safe routes of passage, so no one has to risk their life to find safety in the UK.