Three arrests after five migrants, including child, die trying to cross Channel

24 April 2024, 14:36

Five people, including a child, died in the incident
Five people, including a child, died in the incident. Picture: Alamy

By Flaminia Luck

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences after five migrants, including a child, died while trying to cross the Channel on Tuesday.

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Two men from Sudan, aged 19 and 22, and a third 22-year-old suspect from south Sudan are being questioned over the tragedy, the National Crime Agency said.

They were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration and entering the UK illegally.

The 55 surviving boat passengers have already been interviewed and are expected to be spoken to further in the coming days.

Three men, a woman and a girl died in the incident, according to the French coastguard.

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A person is carried on a stretcher as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought to Dover, Kent, by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel
A person is carried on a stretcher as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought to Dover, Kent, by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture: Alamy

'Threat to life'

Craig Turner, deputy director of investigations for the National Crime Agency, said: "This tragic incident once again demonstrates the threat to life posed by these crossings and brings into focus why it is so important to target the criminal gangs involved in organising them.

"We will do all we can with partners in the UK and France to secure evidence, identify those responsible for this event, and bring them to justice."

More than 400 migrants arrived in the UK on the day the group died.

A dinghy carrying more than 100 people set off from Wimereux at around 6am on Tuesday but later got into difficulty.

Some 49 people were rescued but 58 others refused to leave the boat and continued their journey towards the UK, the coastguard said in a statement, with several other boats later embarking on the crossing.

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A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force. Picture: Alamy

Home Office figures show 402 people made the journey in seven boats that same day after an eight-day break in activity in the Channel. This suggests there was an average of about 57 people per boat.

Young children and babies were among those seen being taken ashore in Dover while witnesses saw crews carrying someone on a stretcher from a lifeboat to an ambulance.

The National Crime Agency said it will be supporting the French investigation into the deaths with UK police and Border Force.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the RNLI Dover Lifeboat
Three men, a woman and a girl died in the incident, according to the French coastguard. Picture: Alamy

Some 29,437 people made the journey in 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

The crossings took place as the tragedy off the coast of northern France unfolded, mere hours after Parliament passed legislation aimed at getting the government's plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Campaigners said the Rwanda plan will not save lives and lamented the news of more deaths due to the dangers of the journey and called for the Channel not to become a graveyard for children.

But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the incident underscores the need for the deterrent the government hopes sending migrants to the east African nation if they arrive illegally in the UK will bring.

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