Channel fishermen distraught over migrant horror: They threaten to jump in water

Channel migrants: Shapps grilled on Boris Johnson’s letter

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The fishermen, who have witnessed a similar scene before, said they were dreading a tragedy of this nature. Laurent Merlin, a fisherman who operates in the channel, said: “Colleagues have already brought in empty dinghies, nobody on board. The dinghy, the engine, but no one on board. In my opinion, what happened yesterday must have already happened several times.” 

Christophe Lhomel added: “It’s sad, we think of the children, we think of everyone and we think of the journey these people have made to leave their country, to arrive from where they are… to end up drowning in the Channel.

“Frankly, this has to stop.”

The fishermen said that they come across more and more boats, empty or full, every time they go out to sea – a problem which has only grown over the last year.

Another fisherman, Jérémy Lhomel, speaking to French news outlet LCI, said: “It has already happened to us…

“If you get close to them, they threaten to jump into the water.

“Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do… just watch them.

“And then wish them good luck.”

According to France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, five women and a girl are among those who died on Wednesday attempting to cross the channel.

One of the women was later reported to have been pregnant.

Speaking about the tragedy, Mr Darmanin said: “Those responsible for the tragedy which took place yesterday in the Channel are the smugglers, who for a few thousand euros promise Eldorado in England.

“The smugglers are criminals, this tragedy reminds us, painfully.”

Four people have so far been arrested in connection with the tragedy.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who described the deaths as a “disaster”, said that it was vital to “break” the people trafficking gangs.

He added that these gangs were “literally getting away with murder”.

However, refugee charities have hit out at the Government’s approach, calling on them to expand safe routes for asylum seekers to reach the UK.

Amnesty International has said that the “government’s failure to open safe and legal routes is a critical factor in tragic deaths in the Channel.”

The organisation’s UK Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, Steve Valdez-Symonds called on the government to “urgently take decisive action to prevent more loss of life.”

He added: “The UK must make it a priority to share responsibility with other countries to receive people into its asylum system – they must do this by providing safe and legal routes and encourage others to do the same.

“We must remember that dangerous journeys take place because​ the Government provides no safe alternative for people to exercise their right to seek asylum here.”

Despite Wednesday’s tragedy, 70 further migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Channel the following night.

According to news outlet Agence France-Presse, they were found freezing in the Calais train station, from where they were taken to emergency shelters.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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