Maryam and 17 men, six other women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children died as a result of their boat sanking into the English Channel while they were trying to cross to the UK.
“She was trying to persuade me that they will be rescued,” her fiancée in the UK said, as reported by the BBC.
The couple were messaging each other on Snapchat just before the boat began to deflate.
“We are trying to get the water out,” Maryam told her fiancée.
However, only one man from Iraqi Kurdistan and one from Somalia survived the sinking boat. The number who died represents the highest number of deaths in the English Channel in recent years.
Since New Year’s Day, 31,500 refugees and migrants have reportedly tried to cross from France to Britain, while 7,800 have been reportedly rescued in the English Channel.
Many migrants and refugees in the French port city of Calais, struggling to survive in poor conditions, have attempted to get to the UK. An estimated 2,000 refugees and migrants have reportedly arrived in the UK in the past month, with 3,780 people reportedly entering the country via France in the first 11 days alone.
About 1,500 refugees and migrants sheltering on roadsides in the northern French city of Grand-Synthe were moved to shelters on 16 November in a police operation.
Lord Kerr accuses the Home Secretary of presenting false ‘facts’ regarding refugee numbers
In response to the Home Office Minister Priti Patel’s account of ‘migrant’ numbers attempting to enter the UK, and her parliamentary statement on 22 November that “the number of people coming into our country illegally on small boats is unacceptable,” Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, in a House of Lords debate that took place the day after the deaths of the 27 boat people in the Channel, stated: “First, overall refugee numbers are currently running at about half of where they were 20 years ago. We are not the preferred destination in Europe. We are (…) well down the list of preferred destinations.
“Secondly, yes, small boat numbers are up, partly for the reason the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, adduced – the fences, patrols and heat sensors around the train tracks and marshalling yards mean that people are now driven to the even more dangerous sea route. But the principal reason clandestine numbers are up is that official resettlement routes are shut.
“Our schemes,” he pointed out, “in practice, no longer exist. We have closed the Syrian scheme, we have scrapped the Dubs scheme, we have left Dublin III and we have not got an Afghan scheme up and running.
“The largest group crossing the channel in the last 18 months, by nationality, were Iranians. In the last 18 months, 3,187 Iranians came. In the same period, one got in by the official route. How many came from Yemen in these 18 months? Yemen is riven by civil war and famine. None came by the official route – not one.”
He added: “My third set of facts is as in the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett. The Home Secretary says that 70% of channel crossers are ‘economic migrants, (…) not genuine asylum seekers.’ That is plainly not true.
“Her own department’s data show that, of the top 10 nationalities arriving in small boats, virtually all seek asylum – 61% are granted it at the initial stage and 59% of the rest on appeal. The facts suggest that well over 70% of asylum seekers coming across the channel in small boats are genuine asylum seekers, not economic migrants.”
“That,” he noted, “is hardly surprising because the top four countries they come from are Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. (…) These people are fleeing persecution and destitution, and the sea route from France is the only one open to many of them. Why not have a humanitarian visa?”
Lord Kerr: ‘Unless we provide a safe route, we are complicit with the people smugglers’
For Lord Kerr: “Unless we provide a safe route, we are complicit with the people smugglers. Yes, we can condemn their case and we” can “mourn” those who died on 24 November, “but that does not seem to stop us planning to break with the Refugee Convention.
“Our compassion is well controlled because it does not stop [the UK government] planning, in the Borders Bill, to criminalise those who survive the peril of the seas and those at Dover who try to help them.
“Of course, we can go down that road. But if we do, let us at least be honest enough to admit that what drives us down that road is sheer political prejudice, not the facts, because the facts do not support the case for cruelty.”