French marine rescue volunteer, Charles Devos, contributed his boat to the frantic search for a flimsy migrant boats that foundered in the English Channel, killing at least 27. When that happened, helicopters buzzed above the waves and vessels were already probing the chilly seas.
Devos discovered something awful. But not entirely unexpected, he subsequently admitted with regret. Devos had long worried that catastrophe would follow the hundreds of migrants who set sail in flotillas of unseaworthy and overcrowded vessels into the busy shipping route crisscrossed by huge freighters and regularly troubled by terrible weather, waves, and currents.
This week, the deadliest migration catastrophe in history occurred on the perilous stretch of sea that between France and the United Kingdom.
“We picked up six floating bodies. We passed by an inflatable craft that was deflated. The little bit of air remaining kept it afloat,” Devos told reporters. “I’d been somewhat expecting it because I’d say, ‘It’s going to end with a drama,’” he said.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s terrible sinking, which highlighted the breadth and complexity of Europe’s migration challenges, France and Britain asked for European aid, vowed further efforts to target people-smuggling networks, and swapped blame and insults.
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU leadership on Thursday, suggesting coordinated sea, air, and land patrols as early as next week.
France has been staunchly opposed to the concept. Johnson also offered a deal that would allow Britain to return refugees to France.
Macron urged neighboring European nations to do more to prevent illegal migration into France, saying that “it is already too late” when refugees reach French coasts in the hopes of continuing on to Britain.
France is sending army drones as part of stepped-up measures to police its northern coastline and assist migrant rescuers at sea, according to Macron. However, he also stated that a more concerted effort is required, referring to France as a “transit nation” for migrants heading to the United Kingdom.