Migrant children fall from overcrowded boats in Channel between UK and France, charities say

Charity organisations have stated that children are among those who have recently fallen from overcrowded boats while trying to cross the Channel between the United Kingdom and France. 

According to Rachel Sykes of the charity Project Play, an organisation working with about 300 children in northern France, some of the children had been sent to the hospital after falling into the sea. 

Clare Morris, co-founder of Project Play, claimed that many families attempt the crossing multiple times. She said: “We don’t know how often each family tries, plus it varies from family to family, but it is frequent. Children will often tell us on consecutive days about what has happened the previous night in relation to crossings.”

The boats which have been intercepted recently have been carrying up to five times as many passengers as they were built for. Now smugglers are cramming almost 30 people into inflatable vessels which were made for six passengers. In the past, around eight passengers would have travelled on vessels of this size. 

Several migrants have died attempting to cross the Channel in recent months. British police are looking into the death of a woman who fell from a boat in bad weather on 9 August. Belgian police also found the body of an Iraqi migrant in a makeshift lifejacket who drowned while trying to swim to the UK on 30 August. 

The number of crossings over this dangerous route is increasing. In 2019, more than 1,000 migrants are said to have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats from France. This number is over three times the amount that followed the same route in 2018. In early September alone, migrants were arriving in the UK daily. 

This increase could be linked to growing rumours that the UK’s planned exit from the European Union could bring about tighter border restrictions.

Worsening conditions for migrants in northern France may also play a role in the recent wave of attempted Channel crossings. Charities say that migrants’ mental health in northern France is worse than ever. Incidences of self-harm, substance abuse and depression are becoming more common recently, said Chloé Lorieux, from Doctors of the World UK.

British and French officials held talks in Paris this August to strengthen their collaboration on border management. The talks ended with the British government considering sending additional funds to France to help curb irregular migration.

TMP 19/09/2019

Photo Credit: Marine Nationale/Getty Images

Photo Caption: Twenty migrants in an inflatable dinghy that ran out of fuel while trying to cross the Channel. They were rescued by French coastguards off Cap Griz-Nez on 5 August.