Statement in response to the drowning of 27 refugees in the English Channel

24 November 2021

Letting refugees drown is tantamount to collateral murder by governments that should know by heart the lessons of the Second World War.

English Channel drownings

Responding to news of 27 refugees  drowning in the English Channel after their dinghy capsized while trying to cross the English Channel from France to the UK earlier today, Robina Qureshi, Chief Executive of Positive Action in Housing, a refugee and migrant homelessness and human rights charity, said:

“Letting refugees drown is tantamount to collateral murder by governments that should know by heart the lessons of the Second World War.  The responsibility for these deaths lies with Europe and the U.K. who have abjectly failed to create safe corridors for the sliver of a fraction of the world’s refugees who risk their lives on dangerous journeys to arrive on our shores.

"Instead of creating safe, humanitarian corridors, the UK government has stopped rescue missions and sounded dog whistles to the far right. The more that governments try to stop refugees arriving, the more they fuel the human trafficking trade, and the more refugees who will risk death by drowning in order to take a chance at fleeing persecution, in order to reach family already here and saving loved ones back home.

"We strongly urge the BBC and other media outlets to get their words right. The people who died after their boats sank in the English Channel are refugees NOT migrants. They ARE men, women and children fleeing persecution from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen and elsewhere. People fleeing these countries are refugees, not migrants.”


Positive Action in Housing is a small independent, anti-racist homelessness and human rights charity (SC027577) dedicated to supporting women, children and men from refugee and migrant backgrounds to rebuild their lives. We believe in a society where everyone has the right to live safe and dignified lives, free from poverty, homelessness or inequality. We assist those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution to overcome crisis situations, for example, the removal of basic human rights such as refuge, shelter, the right to work or hold a bank account. We assist established ethnic minority communities to overcome bad housing. We offer welfare advice and money skills. We provide volunteering and training. We offer advice, crisis grants, and free shelter to those at risk of destitution through Room for Refugees, a refugee hosting programme (

French newspaper La Voix du Nord said that shortly before 2pm a fisherman alerted authorities that multiple people were in the water off the coast of Calais. The coast guard told Reuters that 20 people had been found at sea. One fisherman, Nicolas Margolle, told Reuters he had seen two small dinghies - one with people onboard and another empty. He said another fisherman had called the rescue operation after seeing an empty dinghy and 15 people floating motionless in the water The marinetraffic app currently shows three rescue boats and one helicopter in the region.
The Dover Strait is the busiest shipping lane in the world and has claimed many lives of people trying to cross to Britain in inflatable dinghies. More than 25,700 people have made the dangerous journey to the UK this year - three times the total for the whole of 2020, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

see also:  

Please indicate your consent to this site’s use of cookies

Some cookies are essential for our site to function. We also use cookies for functionality and for performance measurement.