Man dies crossing English Channel - Jesuit Refugee Service responds

August 12, 2021

“Tragic and avoidable” loss of life in English Channel “must never be allowed to happen again” says Jesuit Refugee Service UK

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS UK)1 is deeply saddened to learn that a man has died in hospital, following his rescue from a small boat that was sinking in the Channel, while trying to reach the UK.2

Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK said: “This is terrible news. We know very little about the man who lost his life but we know he is someone’s son, brother, father, friend or neighbour. We pray for all who loved him and who will grieve for him.

“The desperation of people making this treacherous journey is an indictment of our failure to provide safe means of sanctuary to those fleeing for their lives. This awful tragedy is yet another ghastly reminder that the government has no intention of creating a just and person-centred asylum system. New government proposals will do nothing but force more people into ever more perilous situations like these.

“This tragic and avoidable loss of life must never be allowed to happen again. We urgently need a human-centred approach to those seeking sanctuary, with safe and compassionate routes to safety.”

The tragedy follows the deaths of many who have made the dangerous journey across the Channel to the UK seeking safety in the last year. Among these, are a 16-year-old Sudanese boy3, and Rasoul Iran-Nezhad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, who died along with their three young children, all of whom were remembered in an online prayer vigil at JRS last October4.

JRS UK renews calls for safe routes to sanctuary, and a more human approach to those seeking asylum, as laid out in our recent report ‘Being Human in the Asylum System’ 5 and re-condemns proposed legislation in the government’s New Plan for Immigration and Nationality and Borders Bill, which would punish people for the way in which they arrive in the UK to seek asylum, and increase barriers to sanctuary for the most vulnerable survivors of trafficking and modern slavery.6

- Ends –

Notes to Editor

1.    The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation, at work in over 50 countries around the world with a shared mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. In the UK, our work currently focuses on those who find themselves destitute as a consequence of government policies and those detained for the administration of immigration procedures.

2.    Source: The Independent - ‘Migrant dies in English Channel trying to reach UK after boat sinks’ May Bulman https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/channel-migrant-boat-crossing-latest-b1901442.html

3.    “JRS calls for safe, managed routes after tragic death of 16-year-old boy in Channel crossing” https://www.jrsuk.net/news/death-of-16-year-old-boy-channel-crossing/

4.    “JRS thankful to all who shared profound moments of stillness and reflection” https://www.jrsuk.net/news/jrs-thankful-to-all-who-shared-profound-moments-of-stillness-and-reflection/

5.    JRS UK’s report ‘Being Human in the Asylum System’ released April 2021: www.jrsuk.net/being-human

6.    “Where is our shared sense of humanity?” JRS condemns government’s new Borders Bill” https://www.jrsuk.net/news/where-is-our-shared-sense-of-humanity-jrs-condemns-governments-new-borders-bill/

7.    Contact: Joanna Biernat, Editorial Communications Assistant, Joanna.biernat@jrs.net  07395 416045;

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