Governments must act now, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) UK said as it reiterated calls for safe, managed routes, after a teenage migrant was found dead on a French beach.
The 16-year-old Sudanese migrant was found dead on a Calais beach after officials were told a makeshift boat had capsized at sea.
Another migrant, suffering from hypothermia, reported in the early hours of Wednesday that a companion who could not swim was missing and may still be in the water, France’s prefecture for the English Channel said.
At 8am on Wednesday morning border police were informed of the discovery of a teenager’s body on the beach at Sangatte, just outside the port city of Calais.
The tragedy came as migrants making the perilous crossing of the English Channel in small boats have been a focus of the UK Government amid a record number of journeys.
Opposition MPs and charities have criticised the Government’s handling of the situation and called for safe routes for asylum seekers to be provided.
Sarah Teather, director of JRS UK, said the “terrible news” was yet another tragic reminder that governments must act immediately in opening up safe, managed routes for people who are trying to claim asylum.
“This is terrible news. He was just a child. What an awful way to die. In amongst the news coverage, we must remember that he was someone’s son, brother, and friend. We pray for all who loved him and who will grieve for him,” said Ms Teather.
“This terrible tragedy tells us again that governments have to act. We have systematically closed down the safe managed routes for people to travel to claim asylum. In doing so, we force people into ever more perilous journeys, with the inevitable consequence that someone will lose their life.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has pledged to make the route “unviable”, said the death was “an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life”.
“This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people,” she added.
French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa also said the death highlights the need to tackle the smugglers.
‘Immense sadness: A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant who disappeared in the sea last night was found dead in the beach in Sangatte this morning,’ she tweeted.
Local reports suggested the migrant was a male.
The French prefecture said the body was discovered on Wednesday morning during a huge search and rescue effort after they were notified at 1.09am that a migrant suffering from hypothermia had been found on the beach.
He was taken to hospital and told authorities he had been on a makeshift boat which had capsized.
And he said his companion, who could not swim, might still be in the water.
Picture: Archive photo, dated 19th September 2016, shows Rahela Sidiqi, a trustee of Women for Refugee Women, in Parliament Square in London which had been transformed into a ‘graveyard of lifejackets’ using 2,500 lifejackets worn by refugees crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Chios, during an event organised in support of refugees to coincide with the UN Migration Summit. (Philip Toscano/PA).