More than half of the migrants crossing the English Channel come from Iran, official figures show.
Some 2,362 people detected crossing the Channel in small boats between January 2018 and June 2020 were Iranian nationals, followed by 1,211 Iraqis and 282 Syrian nationals.
At least 167 migrants have died or gone missing on the English Channel route since 2014, according to data from the Missing Migrants Project.
These figures don’t include the 27 people that drowned off the English coast on Wednesday (24 November). While the identities of the dead are yet to be confirmed, many of them seem to be Kurds from Iraq and Iran.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter to accuse smugglers of the tragedy. “This disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the Channel this way,” he said in a message on Twitter.
“It’s important that we accelerate all the measures in our Borders and Nationalities Bill so that we can distinguish between people who come here legally and people who come here illegally,” he added.
Some organisations, however, have placed the blame on the British government.
“We must remember that dangerous journeys take place because the government provides no safe alternative for people to exercise their right to seek asylum here,” said Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director.