Iraqi migrant drowned in attempt to swim to Britain

Belgian authorities have recovered the body of a drowned Iraqi migrant who attempted to swim across the English Channel to reach the United Kingdom.

The man’s body was discovered by maritime police 20 kilometres off the coast of Zeebrugge in northern Belgium on 30 August. He was found covered in fishnet, wearing a lifejacket made from plastic bottles and one flipper.

Authorities used the man’s fingerprints to identify him, but his name has not been revealed to the public.

It is believed he drowned while attempting to swim to the UK before his body was brought back toward the Belgian coast by currents. He had previously attempted to seek asylum in Germany but his claim was refused. 

“It’s the first time we’ve found the body of a migrant,” Carl Decaluwé, the governor of West Flanders told CNN on Monday.

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel to get to the UK.  This year alone, the British and French coast guards have rescued almost 1,500 migrants in the Channel. 

Despite the rescues, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to send the migrants who reach the UK back in an interview with the British newspaper The Sun. He added: “The UK should not be regarded as a place where you can automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally.”

The stretch of water that separates France and the UK is particularly dangerous for swimmers and those traveling in unfit vessels due to its strong currents and low temperature. It is also one of the world’s busiest maritime shipping lanes.

In a statement, a UK Home Office spokesperson said: “Anyone seeking to swim across the Channel or to cross this dangerous stretch of water in a small boat is taking a huge risk.”

TMP 04/09/2019