By Laura Kemp •
Published: 04 Dec 2021 • 15:34
The RNLI has vowed to keep rescuing migrants on the Channel “without judgement or preference” as the charity is inundated with hateful emails because of a Britain First campaign.
People have hit out at the charity because of its operations involving migrant boats crossing the English Channel, which government agencies coordinate.
Far-right extremist political party Britain First started a new campaign on Thursday, December 2, sending emails and messages out to supporters encouraging them to join a “complaints drive aimed at the RNLI to pressure them to abandon their support for illegal immigrant [sic] and people trafficking and focus instead on saving British lives.”
The group set up an online form that is automated to send emails from Britain First leaders to the RNLI’s chief executive, Mark Dowie
The messages claim to be from “concerned citizens” and “taxpayers.”
“I am very, very angry that RNLI boats are being used in the English Channel to ferry illegal immigrants into Britain,” reads one.
“I urge you to cease these treacherous activities.”
Another message claims to be from someone who has “huge respect for the RNLI” but finds its “recent support for illegal immigration and people trafficking in the English Channel abhorrent.”
The RNLI’s rescue operations do not meet the definition of people trafficking or smuggling.
The HM Coastguard tasks the charity and gives the relevant authorities responsibility for migrants that are rescued when they land.
According to the Britain First website, nearly 3,000 emails were sent yesterday afternoon, however, this has not been independently verified.
An RNLI spokesperson confirmed that they had already received emails generated through the Britain First platform.
“The RNLI is proud of the humanitarian work of its volunteer lifeboat crews in the Channel and we are grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve recently received,” he added.
“The recent tragic deaths in the Channel are a sad reminder of just how dangerous it is to go to sea in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in boats not fit for the crossing, especially as winter approaches.”
“We are a voluntary lifesaving charity, and will rescue anyone in trouble at sea, as the RNLI has been doing for nearly 200 years, without judgement or preference.”
Counter-extremism group Hope Not Hate has started a petition in response to the campaign, allowing people to send messages of solidarity for the RNLI.
director of policy said: “Britain First claim to love this country, but denigrate and smear any of the things that are great about it.
“RNLI is a fantastic organisation, made of volunteers who risk their lives to save people at sea. Denigrating a charity which saves lives in order to fuel anti-migrant hate is despicable.”
Right-wing groups and politicians have repeatedly criticised the RNLI, amid record numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Channel.
Last month, a group of fishermen attempted to block an RNLI lifeboat from launching to rescue asylum seekers, just days before, at least 27 people drowned off the coast of Calais.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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