UNHCR saddened by English Channel tragedy – urges action to prevent further loss of life

News comment attributable to Pascale Moreau, UNHCR Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe.

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25 November 2021

We are deeply shocked and saddened by the unprecedented tragedy that unfolded in the English Channel on Wednesday.

At least 27 people including women and young people, lost their lives attempting to cross one of the world’s most dangerous sea routes. This is the largest loss of life recorded in this seaway in recent times – and one that could have been avoided.

Now is the time for all States and civil society to commit to placing human life, rights and dignity at the centre and forefront of discussions in trying to find solutions.

Saving lives should always be the priority.

In the absence of safer alternatives, people will continue to resort to such perilous journeys, and their desperation and vulnerabilities will continue to be preyed upon and exploited by ruthless smugglers.

A coordinated and comprehensive response is needed on both sides of the Channel and beyond – from the provision of adequate information for people on the move, including on the risks of crossings, to dignified reception conditions, saving lives at sea, actively combating smuggling rings, and expanding safe and predictable routes to safety for refugees.

Among the people on the move, there are people who come from conflict areas and have been facing many challenges and dangers along their journeys.

Those in need of international protection must be able to access it, in a fair and efficient manner, while more effort is needed to ensure swift return for those who are not, in full respect of their human rights.

Only a coordinated, robust and sustained response can prevent further loss of life. UNHCR remains available to provide the necessary support and advice in line with international standards.

This is an abridged version of the article originally posted here. 

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