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UK: Government must stop 'spinning' tragic Channel deaths and set up safe asylum routes

In response to reports of at least three deaths after a small boat capsized in the English Channel in the early hours this morning, Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, said:

“It’s absolutely shattering to once again be reacting to the tragic news of more avoidable deaths in the Channel and our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who’ve died.

“The Government will immediately spin this with their usual talk of cracking down on people smugglers, but these deaths could be avoided if the UK, France and other countries created safe routes for people who are seeking asylum.

“The Prime Minister’s remarks this week about people escaping persecution somehow acting ‘illegally’ or ‘cheating’ the system are at the heart of this problem, showing how the Government prefers to scapegoat desperate people rather than assist them.

“We need to restore some compassion to a failing and dysfunctional asylum system - many of those crossing the Channel are doing so out of desperation, largely because there are no safe and legal routes open to them, with some having family and other connections here. 

“If the Government really wanted to reduce the risk to these terrible Channel deaths, it would immediately establish safe asylum routes working with the French and other authorities.”

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