At least 27 migrants have died after a dinghy headed for the UK capsized in the English Channel on Wednesday, 24 November.
Those confirmed dead include 17 men, seven women and three children in what is the worst tragedy in the channel since records began in 2014.
In a statement on Wednesday, prime minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and appalled” by the deaths.
In a video statement, Mr Johnson called on the French government to step up its efforts in deterring people from attempting the crossing and to break up “human traffickers” who are helping migrants make the journey.
“Now is the time for us all to step up, to work together, to do everything we can to break these gangs who are literally getting away with murder,” he said.
His comments have been rebuked by French humanitarian organisation L’Auberge des Migrants which is currently working to identify the bodies of the deceased, contact their families and organise the funerals.
Maya Konforti, secretary general of the charity said the tragedy had not occurred because of human trafficking gangs.
“The existence of smugglers is in response to a need; a need because there’s no legal way to go and seek asylum in Britain,” she said.
One UK-based charity worked to save the lives of those making the perilous journey across the English Channel is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Mark Dowie, chief executive of the charity said that it does not “judge a casualty on what circumstances have found them in trouble”.
“Our crews do what they do because they believe that anyone can drown, but no one should. They believe in and remain focused on our core purpose, along with every member of the RNLI, to save lives at sea”.
In recent months, the charity has faced attacks from right-wing commentators for giving aid to those making the journey across the English Channel from France in small boats.
Jayda Fransen, the former deputy leader of Britain First, accused RNLI of “escorting illegals”, while former UKIP leader Nigel Farage described the charity as a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs”.
Rebuking the allegations earlier this year, Dowie said: “When our lifeboats launch, we operate under International Maritime Law, which states we are permitted and indeed obligated to enter all waters regardless of territories for search and rescue purposes.
“And when it comes to rescuing those people attempting to cross the Channel, we do not question why they got into trouble, who they are or where they come from. All we need to know is that they need our help.”
Here is how you can offer your support.
Donate to the RLNI
You can donate to the charity through its website. Donations can be made in both pounds and euros, with the option of giving a one-off donation or repeat donations every month.
You can also donate over the phone between Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. If calling from the UK, call 0300 300 9990 and 1800 991802 from Ireland.
Alternatively, send a donation of £5 by SMS, by texting RNLI to 70300. The text will cost you the standard network message rate in addition to your donation, but the RLNI will receive 100 per cent of the £5.
You can also send the charity a cheque via post. Find the full address here.
If you wish to give more regularly, you can take out a monthly membership with the charity for £2.70 a month.
This payment will provide training and equipment for RLNI volunteers. You will also receive a quarterly magazine with in-depth articles about water safety and the work the charity is doing.
RLNI also offers payroll giving, which is a regular donation taken straight from your gross salary (before tax is deducted).
How to become a volunteer
There are a number of volunteer roles at the charity, including lifeboat crews, press officers, fundraisers and shop staff.
Here is the list of roles you could take on:
- Lifeboat crew member
- Lifeboat mechanic
- Training coordinator
- Coxswain – the person in charge of ensuring the safety of the crew
- Lifeguard, or a lifeguard assistant
- Water safety advisor
- A fundraising team member
- Souvenir secretary
- Gift shop volunteer
- Event organiser
See the full list of open opportunities here and more information about how to apply.
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