Coronavirus crisis causes surge in dangerous channel crossings by desperate refugees

The Canary

Fears around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have caused a surge in refugees trying to cross the English channel to the UK. The refugees risk their lives making these journeys in dangerous inflatable boats.

Border patrols have blocked more than a 100 refugees from entering the UK this week. There are fears that 3,000 refugees living in desperate conditions in northern France are at high risk of contracting coronavirus.


Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley said it was only a matter of time before the virus swept through refugee camps.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, told the PA news agency:

The desperation of those making death-defying crossings during a global pandemic is self-evident.

Sankey called for the Home Office to give refugees “safe accommodation, instead of indefinite detention” and “the means to self-isolate” if needed.


Refugees are met by Border Force officers in Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Home Office racism

The recently released Windrush report highlighted the issue of racism from the Home Office. Sankey said that following the report,

the Home Secretary says she wants to put fairness, dignity and respect at the heart of the Home Office’s mission and put people before process.

If this is true, those seeking sanctuary here will be provided with safe accommodation, instead of indefinite detention, and given the means to self isolate if that is necessary.

In total, UK and French authorities have stopped 108 refugees in the channel this week, with 64 refugees taken to the UK. The Home Office said it’s closely monitoring refugees for coronavirus symptoms.

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