Should The UK Do More To Stop Migrants Crossing The Channel?

Migrant Deaths And The UK's Responsibility

Stock image of Westminster. Credit: Melinda Nagy/

Following the tragic loss of life suffered by migrants this weekend, is the UK doing enough to prevent the perilous Channel crossings that claim lives? And, how far should the UK Government’s responsibility extend to migrants?

Six individuals lost their lives when a migrant boat capsized in the Channel near the French coast, off Calais, in the early hours of Saturday, August 12, writes the BBC.

Tragic Consequences Of Illegal Channel Crossings

The French coast guard reported that the vessel encountered trouble, leading to the rescue of fifty-nine people, mainly Afghans, by French and British coastguards. Two individuals may still be missing, and the search has been halted.

‘These overcrowded and unseaworthy death traps should obviously be stopped by the French authorities from leaving the French coast in the first place,’ said Dover MP, Natalie Elphicke.

The six deceased were Afghan men believed to be in their 30s, according to Philippe Sabatier, deputy public prosecutor for Boulogne. Those rescued included children, mainly from Afghanistan.

The French coastal authority Premar was alerted at around 4:20 am local time about an overloaded boat in distress off Sangatte. French and British lifeboats responded, finding people in the water, some crying for help.

‘Some were suffering from sea sickness and the boats are quite simply overloaded… [and] can no longer move forward,’ French rescuer Jean-Pierre Finot stated.

It became the seventh rescue last week, sparking worries about the quality of boats used by smugglers. French officials believe 65 or 66 people were on the boat.

Premar reported that 23 individuals were taken to Dover by UK rescue crews, and a French boat transported 36 to Calais. The search for possibly missing persons continues.

The UK government and migrants’ safety have become a pressing issue. Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, thanked rescuers but urged the UK government to establish an ‘orderly and humane asylum system.’

The English Channel‘s dangers are well-known, with 600 tankers and 200 ferries passing through daily. Home Secretary Suella Braverman referred to the incident as a ‘tragic loss of life.’

A UK government spokesperson emphasised the ‘extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats’ and the need to ‘break the people smugglers’ business model and stop the boats.’

On X, formerly Twitter, shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock called it an ‘appalling, deeply shocking tragedy.’

In the past two days, over 1,000 people crossed the Channel to the UK. Since 2018, more than 100,000 migrants have made the journey.

The UK government and migrants’ safety are under scrutiny, especially after concerns over a Legionella outbreak on the UK’s new migrant barge, Bibby Stockholm.

Public Opinion On Migrant Crossings

The issue has sparked a vast difference of opinion that has polarized many on social media. One woman who spoke for many commented: ‘Terrible news, they are helpless too,’ while another responded: ‘Not helpless at all. They made a free choice to get on that boat.’

One man put the blame squarely on the UK governments’ shoulders: ‘Six people now confirmed dead in English Channel due to Tory government policy.’

While another countered: ‘No, it’s tragic but I think you’ll find they died because of their own choices. The English Channel is one of the most dangerous waterways in the world.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.