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New memorial for migrants who perished trying to reach UK unveiled in Dover

Some 40 people attended an inauguration of a new memorial for more than 200 migrants who have died in the past 20 years trying to cross the Channel to the UK.

It happened on a day that 11 more had to be rescued from the sea.

The memorial stands next to an existing one marking the worst incident, when 58 Chinese people were founded dead in the back of a lorry arriving at Dover in June 2000.

The new migrants' memorial at Dover Seafront
The new migrants' memorial at Dover Seafront

The service on Saturday was led by the Bishop of Dover, the Right Rev. Trevor Willmott, assisted by the Parish Priest of the Good Shepherd Parish in Dover, Fr Jeff Cridland.

The deaths of some involved were recounted as Dover mayor Sue Jones placed flowers in memory of the victims and Deal mayor Nick Tomaszewski read a poignant poem for all victims.

Other civic dignitaries attending included Deal mayoress Muriel Tomaszewska and Sandwich mayor Veronica Liote.

The new memorial is at Townwall Street just outside Dover Eastern Docks.

The dedication service for the migrants' memorial. Picture: Seeking Sanctuary
The dedication service for the migrants' memorial. Picture: Seeking Sanctuary

Ben Bano, from the group Seeking Sanctuary, said: "Our event was not about the rights and wrongs of migration - it was an opportunity to remember all those who have died trying to seek sanctuary in these tragic circumstances.

"Many of those involved have no one for grieve for them - hence it is only right that we act as a proxy. I hope that the memorial will continue to remind us that, in the words of Pope Francis: 'Every migrant has a name, a face and a story.'"

Seeking Sanctuary is a group that aims to raise awareness about people displaced from their homes and to channel humanitarian help from faith communities and community organisations via partnerships with aid workers.

Its special concern is for the 1,000 or so people who are stuck in north-eastern France trying to reach the UK.

They need food, water, good counsel and clothes, which are accepted, sorted and distributed by several organisations, including two Calais warehouses.

The now-twin memorial at Dover
The now-twin memorial at Dover

The new memorial was already in place by late October, just before a long series of incidents of migrants trying to reach the UK by dinghy.

There have been 19 cases involving 162 people between November 8 and last Saturday. All survived.

The service was just hours after the latest rescue.

A Home Office spokesman said: Border Force was contacted by maritime colleagues at around 4am on Saturday. A Border Force cutter and a lifeboat were deployed to assist a dinghy off the coast of Dover with 11 people on board.

“The group consisted of six men, one woman and four children. Eight have presented themselves as Iraqi nationals with the remaining three claiming to be Iranian nationals.

“They received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.”

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