Open safe pathways to UK, prevent more deaths in the sea

27 October 2020: Once again, people travelling in desperation have died in the Channel trying to find a safe place to live because there is no legal way to come here, while members of the UK Government talk of creating wave machines, and employing people to send the boats back, and make no secret of the crass, racist, hostile and heartless policies that they have put in place.

Why people are left to die in this way?

SNN member organisation RAPAR delivered a letter to the UK Government in 2015 on behalf of leaders in the Calais ‘Jungle’, offering the chance to listen to the people directly affected if they really wanted to do something humane, and that offer is still on the table. The Government had this opportunity five years ago and did not take it – how many lives have been lost in the interim? Read the report here:

It is outrageous, and terribly sad that we as a relatively comfortable country think it OK to treat others this way.

The Status Now Network urges the UK Government to honour our moral commitment by creating safe pathways to enable people who are forced into migration to seek asylum in UK without putting their lives in the hands of human traffickers, or taking other life-threatening risks.

In addition, we call for these who are already here, who are undocumented or in the legal process, to be given the right to remain in UK so that we can achieve #HealthAndSafetyForAll.

Here is the media release from Seeking Sanctuary ‘These are more needless and tragic deaths in the Channel’.

A major rescue operation took place throughout Tuesday 27 October after the French Coastguard were alerted by a sailing boat of a migrant boat capsized in the Dunkirk channel off Loon Plage. A fishing vessel, a Dunkirk pilot boat, a lifeboat from Gravelines, the French Navy’s Garonne, a customs patrol vessel and French and Belgian helicopters were all involved.

Initial reports indicated that two people were already dead – drowned – one of them a child. The number was later raised to three.

It appears that eighteen people, Iraqis and Kurdish Iranians, were taken to hospitals in Calais and Dunkirk, two of them suffering from cardio-respiratory arrest, while eight others were suffering from hypothermia. Three may remain missing, one of them a small child. Unknown to those in peril. who were in a small boat used for fishing trips, a warning had been issued to boat owners against launching vessels due to severe sea conditions.
Phil Kerton, Co-Director of Seeking Sanctuary said:
Desperate people have lost their lives in another tragic and distressing accident, this time off the French coast near Dunkirk. Conditions at sea were such that the crossing in a small boat was extremely  hazardous from the start. Our thoughts at ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ are with their families who are yet to learn of their loss and with with those of their companions who were lucky enough to be rescued, but who must now live with the memories of this tragedy. Like everyone else, each of the dead had hopes for leading a future life in peace and dignity, all seeking to realise their innate potential.

‘We continue to urge that innovative solutions are found for the welfare of the world’s exiles. Especially means for their safe access to places where they may request asylum without falling into the hands of unscrupulous traffickers who do not hesitate to put lives at risk. We want to see fresh solutions that do not involve more security measures such as patrols, walls and fences, but which instead see each individual as a fellow human being in need of advice and help and with a genuine contribution to make to our community.’
In due course we will remember the victims at the memorial for deceased seekers of sanctuary on the Dover seafront. In the meantime may they rest in peace.


Update 3 November 2020: this is a reminder that all those people who cross the Channel have a past, a family that loves them, friends, and they are a person.

Follow us on Twitter: ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ aims to raise awareness about people displaced from their homes and to channel basic humanitarian assistance from Faith Communities and Community Organisations via partnerships with experienced aid workers. Our special concern is for the 2000 or so exiles who are stuck in north-western France, mistakenly expecting a welcome in the UK.

They need food, water, good counsel and clothes, which are accepted, sorted and distributed by several organisations, including two Calais warehouses which also supply needs further afield.

Further information from Ben Bano on 07887 651117 or Phil Kerton on 01474 873802. See our latest news at