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Four deaths in two weeks as asylum seekers attempt to reach UK shores

An asylum seeker has died after attempting to cross the Channel - becoming the fourth person to lose their life trying to reach the UK in two weeks.

The Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea says a body was discovered on the beach of Wissant, near Calais, yesterday morning following the discovery of a boat filled with water.

Asylum seekers at Romney Marsh. Submitted picture
Asylum seekers at Romney Marsh. Submitted picture

French authorities also found two others suffering from hypothermia, who were treated by emergency services at the scene before being taken to hospital.

This comes after another asylum seeker died attempting the dangerous crossing on Wednesday, with another reported missing.

It is believed the casualty in that incident was unconscious when they were pulled from the water and pronounced dead as rescuers returned to the dock.

Two men – both Somali nationals – were rescued off the Essex coast near Harwich last Monday, before searches for any possible remaining survivors were called off.

And last night, a train travelling through northern France collided with a group of asylum seekers near Calais, killing one person and injuring three others.

Earlier this year, a 27-year-old man from Eritrea died in August after he and four others jumped overboard as their boat started to sink.

Baby Artin died trying to reach the UK
Baby Artin died trying to reach the UK

The body of baby Artin, who died after a boat carrying asylum seekers capsized off Dunkirk towards the end of 2020, was discovered during the summer.

Four other members of his Kurdish-Iranian family, including small children, had died in the tragedy.

Officials say more than 400 people were rescued during a French-led rescue operation in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais on Tuesday night and into Wednesday.

UK authorities also rescued or intercepted 456 people who had navigated busy shipping lanes from France in small boats earlier this week.

More than 20,200 have reached the UK so far this year.

This is more than double the total for the whole of 2020.

Bridget Chapman from Kent Refugee Action Network said: "We continue to call for a fresh and humanitarian approach to the issue of those seeking to cross the Channel to apply for asylum.

"The government's approach has been completely chaotic. A huge amount of public money has been spent and very little achieved, apart from making this journey even more difficult and dangerous.

"The government has announced one draconian sounding proposal after another; from floating walls, to wave machines, processing centres on Ascension Island, and the pushbacks of dinghies - they have all been frantic and pointless sabre rattling in place of a proper grown-up approach to taking on our fair share of responsibility for those seeking asylum in Europe.

"We would like to see the implementation of humanitarian visas (such as was issued to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya during the Olympics) allowing the holder safe and legal travel. This would have the added benefit of completely destroying the market for people smuggling gangs overnight which is something that everyone would welcome.

"The KRAN Youth Forum, who have lived experience of seeking asylum, recently produced a report along with the Safe Passage and Hummingbird Young Leaders which came up with several additional proposals. These include the UK working closely with countries in the EU to ensure the family reunion process is faster and smoother, and expanding resettlement schemes so that many more countries in addition to Syria and Afghanistan are included."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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