Each and every death in the Channel is a human tragedy

Editorial: The people who make these journeys need our help – we are not at war with them

Wednesday 24 November 2021 21:30
<p>Migrants are helped ashore from a RNLI lifeboat at a beach in Dungeness, on the southeast coast of England, on 24 November</p>

Migrants are helped ashore from a RNLI lifeboat at a beach in Dungeness, on the southeast coast of England, on 24 November

The death by drowning of more than 30 people in the English Channel is as sickening as it was inevitable. Such is the volume of refugees now using this seaborne route, and such is the rush before the weather turns much worse, that an already risky venture undertaken in unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels was bound to grow even more hazardous.

Each and every death is a human tragedy. Too often the cold nomenclature of “economic migrants”, “illegals” and worse serves only to dehumanise these people – men, women and children seeking shelter from danger. The most sobering thought is that these people are so desperate that even this loss of life will not be enough to deter them. They have been fleeing for their lives across continents, and they are evidently prepared to take risks inconceivable to those fortunate enough to live in prosperous, free societies. They are not putting their lives on the line for a spell in a British hotel and £38 a week spending money, as some would have it.

Even if they were all motivated solely by “economic” needs and the desire to secure a better life for themselves and their families, it would still be a heart-rending disaster. The distinction between asylum seekers and economic migrants is, in any case, blurred when people are escaping from areas affected by war. The record shows that the people who make these journeys come from countries where normal life has ceased, and where death, torture and persecution are the norm.

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