Protest calls for safe passage across the English Channel

Protest calls for safe passage across the English Channel

People take part in a protest outside Downing Street in Westminster (Aaron Chown/PA)

Around 150 people have gathered near 10 Downing Street to protest over the deaths of more than two dozen people who drowned while attempting to cross the English Channel this week.

Twenty-seven people died during the crossing on Wednesday, making it one of the deadliest days of the migrant crisis.

The demonstration, organised by anti-racism group Stand Up To Racism, is hearing speeches from the general secretary of the UK’s largest teachers union – the National Education Union – and several others including religious groups and volunteer organisations directly involved in helping migrants.

People take part in a protest outside Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

Women and children were among those on board the boat which capsized after leaving Calais on Wednesday. Just two survived.

One of the victims was 24-year-old Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin – known to her family as Baran – a Kurdish woman from northern Iraq who was said to be travelling to the UK to join her fiance.

Following the tragedy, politicians argued about how to halt the perilous crossings of the Channel.

An invitation to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to attend a meeting of ministers from key European allies in Calais on Sunday was withdrawn after France was angered by Mr Johnson releasing a letter he sent to Mr Macron setting out a battery of proposals, including reiterating a call for joint UK-French patrols by border officials along French beaches to stop boats leaving, which Paris has resisted.

In a statement reported in French media, the interior ministry said the meeting on Sunday would go ahead with interior minister Gerald Darmanin and his counterparts from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and representatives of the European Commission.

(PA Graphics)

More than 25,700 people have made the dangerous journey to the UK in small boats this year – three times the total for the whole of 2020, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

Figures released by the UK Home Office on Thursday showed that more than 37,500 asylum claims were made in the UK in the year to September, which is the highest level for nearly 20 years.

The backlog in cases also reached its highest point since comparable records began, with more than 67,500 asylum applications awaiting a decision at the end of September.

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