Homage to Channel dead a year after 'avoidable' migrant tragedy

REUTERS - PASCAL ROSSIGNOL

Tributes and demonstrations have taken place in France to commemorate the 27 migrants who died a year ago in a Channel boat disaster. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin admitted French rescue services should have intervened.

Several boats packed with rescuers and local elected figures took to the sea off the coast of Dunkirk on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the most deadly migrant accident in the Channel on record.

The officials tossed wreaths into the water and paused to remember the 27 people, mostly from Iraq, who perished when their inflatable boat sank in the middle of the shipping channel between France and Britain.

Thirty-one people were on board at the time but only 27 bodies were found.

"It's a tragedy that we were expecting and there will probably be others," said the head of the local branch of the SNSM lifeboat service, Alain Ledaguenel.

"They are men, women and children and we must never forget that," Green MEP and former mayor Damien Carême told RFI.

'Deaths could have been avoided'

The UN Refugee Agency says the deaths could have been avoided. The UNHCR called on all states to "commit to placing human life, rights and dignity at the centre and forefront of discussions".

Elsewhere, a protest march organised by a local charity saw people walk from the centre of Dunkirk to the beach behind a banner reading "Your borders, our dead".

One of the marchers read out the names of the deceased while facing the water.

'Should have intervened'

(With newswires)


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