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Thu, 24 September 2020

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Home Secretary Priti Patel urged to drop 'toxic' asylum policy after death of 16-year-old boy in English Channel

Home Secretary Priti Patel urged to drop 'toxic' asylum policy after death of 16-year-old boy in English Channel

French officials confirmed the death of a 16-year-old boy

2 min read

MPs and charities have urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to take urgent action following the death of a 16-year-old boy in the English Channel.

French authorities have confirmed that a Sudanese migrant who had disappeared at sea while trying to reach the UK had been found dead on a beach near Calais.

The death comes amid a rise in the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel to reach the UK, with many travelling in small dinghies.

A record 1,265 people have landed in the UK already this month, up from 1,118 in July.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has pledged to make the crossing "unviable", said the teenager's death was an "upsetting and tragic loss of a young life".

"This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people," she said.

"Working together we are determined to stop them."

But Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the government's response had been "lacking in compassion and competence".

"The news of the death of a 16-year-old boy in the Channel is heartbreaking and our thoughts are with his loved ones," Mr Thomas-Symonds added.

"The Government's response to the situation in the Channel has been lacking in compassion and competence.

"Ministers urgently need to step up work with international partners to find a humanitarian solution to this crisis, which is costing lives."

Meanwhile, Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said Ms Patel should "consider her position" following the death.

"It is devastating to learn that a child has now died in the Channel while trying to seek safety in the UK," she said.

"This is a horrifying but wholly expected death.

"We have repeatedly warned Priti Patel it was only a matter of time before her toxic policy to deny safe and legal routes to the UK would cost lives.

"This death lies firmly at her door. She should consider her position."

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