Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Death in the English Channel

Since 1999 nearly 300 refugees have died trying to cross the English Channel. Currently the UK government refuses to provide safe passage for people with a legitimate claim to asylum. This forces many refugees to attempt often very dangerous methods of crossing the English Channel.

The Observatory of Deaths at the Border is an interactive map which uses data from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) and GISTI (a legal service for asylum seekers in France) to plot where people have died trying to cross from Europe into the UK. If you click any of the markers on the map you can read details about the individual victim (taken from the IRR/GISTI database). The IRR reports that often very little is known about individual victims. In many cases there is no known name or clue to the victim's nationality. In some cases, "we know fragments of a person’s story – their name, their age, their nationality, how they died – but nothing about how they lived, or what made them try to beat the odds to get here". 

The Observatory of Deaths at the Border interactive map was created to accompany a report by the Institute of Race Relations, Deadly Crossings and the militarisation of Britain’s borders. The report highlights that the UK's response to refugees trying to cross the English Channel has been to increase RAF patrols, use naval drones and even use netting to trap boats. The IRR reports that these measures do little to stop refugees trying to enter the UK but instead lead desperate people to attempt even more dangerous methods of entering the country.

Since 2013 the Migrant Files has been maintaining a database of migrants who have died in Europe, or on their way to Europe. You can view a number of interactive maps which have used the Migrant Files (and other data sources) to track the deaths of migrants trying to reach Europe in this 2018 Maps Mania post.

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