Anniversary of Migrant disaster shows ‘Government have learned nothing’, charities warn

The then Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and appalled” by the tragic event and said that human trafficking gangs were “literally getting away with murder”. At the time, Mr Johnson urged French President Emmanuel Macron to make more of an effort to deter people from embarking on the perilous journey.

However, Mr Macron said that Britain was politicising the issue for domestic reward and French minister Gerald Darmanin said that the UK had to also help come up with the answer.

The French announced a few weeks ago that there would be an internal investigation into the incident last year after British and French coastguards blamed each other for failing to help.

In France, the Minister for Maritime Affairs said: “A police investigation is under way, and the government has also launched an internal inquiry. There will be lessons to draw from that.”

Now, on the anniversary of the disaster, charities have said that the UK Government has “learned nothing” from the accident.

On Thursday evening, there is expected to be a vigil held in Parliament Square which was arranged by Care4Calais, a refugee charity.

Despite the public outrage at the tragedy and the desire for solutions, in the past year since the disaster, 44,000 people have crossed the Channel and the number is ever-increasing.

Refugee Action CEO Tim Naor Hilton told Sky News: “The Government has learned nothing from last year’s tragedy.”

Mr Hilton added that instead of finding worthy solutions to the crisis, the Government is instead continuing to “pile hostility on to people seeking asylum”.

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He added: “There are no safe routes for most people to reach the UK, a snowballing backlog, tens of thousands of people warehoused in hotels and hundreds of millions wasted on a Rwanda deal, drones, a work ban and other cruel and ineffective deterrent schemes.

“This hostility just makes it more likely that there will be a tragedy – whether in the Channel of among people seeking asylum living in poverty and isolation in the UK.”

Despite criticism of the Government, a spokesperson noted that Downing Street is focused on cracking down on people smuggling gangs who are profiteering from and encouraging such dangerous journeys.

A spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the families of all of those who lost their lives in the tragic incident last November.

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“We cannot have a repeat of this devastating event which is why we are working with our international partners to disrupt the people smuggling gangs behind these dangerous crossings who are putting lives at risk with every journey they arrange.”

They added: “As is standard practice in such circumstances, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch is conducting a safety investigation focusing on the emergency response to the incident, which HM Coastguard and the Home Office are fully cooperating with.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been asked to show “tangible results” from her crackdown on the Channel crossings by Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns.

Ms Jenkyns wrote to Ms Braverman to say that November’s £63million deal with France must be “matched with actions” to “ensure that UK Border Force does not remain UK Border Farce”.