Relatives of the 27 people who died in the worst mass drowning in the English Channel in decades have marked two years since the disaster by publishing an open letter demanding answers about what happened.
Signed with dozens of refugee NGOs, the letter says the families still have no explanation for why French and British authorities abandoned those on board a sinking dinghy who called for helps him several times.
At least one pregnant woman and three children were among the 27 bodies found after the boat sank. Four people remain missing.
The letter states: “We will never allow the lives lost that night, nor those of loved ones lost since, to be forgotten. We demand justice and change. We aspire that people seeking safety on Britain’s shores are seen as human beings, deserving of rights, compassion and dignity.
“Tragedies like this happen because of the otherness our politicians insist on – the dehumanization of sons and fathers, mothers and daughters, friends and family members. »
The letter calls for safe routes for all refugees wishing to come to the UK and for better refugee resettlement and family reunification schemes. “This is the only way to end these tragedies,” he said.
An investigation published this month by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), part of the Department for Transport (DfT), into the incident found there was confusion that night as several SOS calls had been received, weather conditions were poor and there was a shortage of emergency response team personnel.
The families have not been informed of the date on which the results of the investigation into this tragedy, announced after the publication of the MAIB report, will be made public.
The open letter was coordinated by a coalition of refugee sector charities including Calais Appeal, Care4Calais, Freedom from Torture, Refugee Action, the Refugee Council, Safe Passage and the Scottish Refugee Council.
Steve Smith, chief executive of Care4Calais, said: “Two years after the greatest loss of life in the English Channel in decades, no one has taken responsibility for the failure of British authorities to respond to desperate calls for help. help of people on board. this tragic boat.
“Justice will not be served until families have answers, those responsible are held accountable, and our government begins to value the lives of refugees by providing them with safe passage. »
Since the mass drowning of November 24, 2021, there have been several others in the Channel, the latest on Wednesday when two people drowned 1 km off the French coast. More than 27,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Channel on small boats so far this year.