Africa: Drowning of 27 Migrants in English Channel Is Worst Disaster On Record – IOM


Urgent action is needed to avoid a repeat of tragedies like this week’s drowning of at least 27 people in the English Channel, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

The incident amounted to the largest single loss of life in the English Channel since the UN migration agency, IOM, started recording data in 2014.

Another 106 migrants were rescued in French waters on Wednesday alone.

Risking everything

Ever-increasing numbers of people are attempting the journey in small, unseaworthy boats as they flee conflict or poverty or persecution in Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Eritrea and elsewhere.

According to the International Organization for Migration, since 2014, 166 migrants have been recorded dead or missing in the English Channel and 22,930 have been recorded dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea.

European tragedy

UNHCR, says an estimated 1,600 people have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea this year while trying to reach Europe from northern African States or Turkey. Hundreds more have perished in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa on a migrant route to Spain’s Canary Islands.

Since the start of the year, well over 31,000 have attempted the dangerous crossing between France and the UK and 7,800 people have been rescued at sea, the French authorities have reportedly said.

Before Wednesday’s tragedy, 14 people drowned this year trying to reach the UK, a French maritime official said. Last year, a total of seven people died and two disappeared in the English Channel.