Channel crossings: Body of teenage migrant found on French beach


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PA Media

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The number of children crossing the Channel in dinghies has risen

A 16-year-old from Sudan who disappeared at sea has been found dead on a French beach.

French politicians believe the boy, whose body was found in Calais, went missing while attempting to cross the English Channel in a small boat.

A search operation began after another migrant was found with hypothermia on the shore at about 02:00 BST.

He told authorities that his friend, who could not swim, was missing after their makeshift boat capsized.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the death of the young migrant was a “brutal reminder” that people smugglers exploit the vulnerable.

The Home Office would not confirm whether he was trying to reach the UK.

More than 4,800 people have crossed the Channel in about 360 small boats this year.

Labour MP Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said the government’s response to the rise in crossings had been “lacking in compassion and competence”.

He urged ministers to “step up work with international partners to find a humanitarian solution to this crisis, which is costing lives”.

‘Don’t deserve to die’

Clare Moseley, of refugee charity Care4Calais, said she was “absolutely devastated by the unnecessary death of this child”.

“We can only imagine the fear he felt and our hearts go out to his family,” she said.

Ms Moseley said the boys the charity supports in Calais were “fun to be with despite the horrors they have been through”.

“Some are cheeky, some are smart, some like football, some like books. None deserve to be here and none deserve to die alone in the sea.”

French minister Marlene Schiappa said the boy’s body was found on a beach in Sangatte, Calais, on Wednesday.

Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said it “seems pretty sure he drowned in the Channel”.

‘Asylum solution’

Earlier this month, Dan O’Mahoney was appointed as the UK’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander in a bid to make the Channel route “unviable” for small boat crossings.

But Mr Dumont said that “whatever the British government implement in the Channel, people will try to cross”.

“The more difficult it will be to cross, the more dangerous it will be,” he added.

He said the “only solution” was to allow migrants living in Europe to claim asylum in the UK, without having to land in Britain.