Canal: The day after 27 migrants died at sea, Britain and France in an attempt to restrict canal crossings

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The day after at least 27 people died while trying to cross English Channel when their thin rubber boat capsized during the dangerous journey, the leaders for France and England promised to crack down on migrant passengers despite offering a fragile response to one of the deadliest disasters in recent years involving migrants trying to cross the narrow waterway that separates the two countries. French officials confirmed that children and a pregnant woman were among those drowned, as crews worked in the cold and wind to recover bodies and try to identify those who died. Two people, one from Iraq and one from Somalia, were found and taken to a French hospital, where they were treated for severe hypothermia.
The tragedy was a stark reminder that five years after the authorities dismantled a large-scale migrant camp in Calais, both countries are still struggling to cope with the influx of migrants in the area. France and UK have long accused each other of not doing enough to curb attempts to cross the canal.
After the tragedy on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the UK said that greater efforts should be made to allow joint patrols along the French coast. And President Emmanuel Macron France said he expected the British to “cooperate fully and refrain from using this dramatic situation for political means.”
The two leaders spoke by telephone late Wednesday and said in statements afterwards that they had agreed to intensify efforts to prevent migrants from crossing one of the world’s busiest waterways. Under an agreement between the two nations, Britain pays France to crack down on crossings through surveillance and patrolling. Macron called for an immediate tightening of border controls and an increased crackdown on human traffickers with other European nations.
Attempts to reach the UK by small boats have increased in recent years as the authorities have cracked down on smuggling of asylum seekers in lorries passing by ferry or through Channel Tunnel. Since the beginning of the year, 47,000 attempts have been made to cross the canal in small boats and 7,800 migrants had been rescued from shipwrecks, according to French officials. Before Wednesday, seven people had died or disappeared so far this year.


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