• Chuks Sam Ogbunubi

The Dangerous Channel Crossings

'No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark.

You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than land..."

These words in Warsan Shire's poem "Home" are arguably the most important  words that should be in the minds of policy-makers and government officials  uring the formulation and implementation of policies affecting the lives of thousands of asylum-seekers fleeing from persecution and to"supposed safety" in the UK. They should always be in the minds of those who deal directly  with refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants in Europe and in the UK in particular . Zarah Sultana MP (2020), stated among other things that "The enemy of the working class travels by private jet, not migrant dinghy." She made a very valid argument relating our equal vulnerability to those risking their lives crossing the English Channels via migrant dinghies if we found ourselves in similar situations. She went ahead to urge the government to focus more on creating legal routes by way of humanitarian visas for asylum-seekers and refugees as a way to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives of people attempting to crossover to the UK through the Channels by migrant dinghies.

In Lizzie Dearden(2020), reported that a 16 year old boy drowned in the Channel while trying to crossover to the UK from France and his body was later found in a beach in France. Priti Patel the Home Secretary categorically blamed the death on the "criminal gangs" organising the dinghy migrant travels. Human-rights lawyers disagreed with her saying that safer migrant routes was the solution and that the government's policy on migration was devoid of compassion and humanity.She equally sent a tweet in which she claimed the frustrations the government is facing in deporting failed asylum-seekers was caused by leftist labour minded human-rights lawyers who seek loopholes in the immigration laws to perpetually keep failed asylum-seekers in the UK. On another occasion during an online video conference she claimed that the migrants said they felt France was racist to them hence their preference to risk the Channel journey to the UK, however, she clarified that she did not believe them. Unfortunately, French politicians blamed the death of the teenager to the lack of humanity in the UK's patrol of the Channel.

It is rather interesting to note lately that all the major media houses namely Sky News, BBC etc seem to be focused on reporting incidents of migrants crossing the Channels. In some cases you see the journalists in boats alongside these dinghies with people crossing to the UK. J. Grierson and co(2020) reported that more than 4,000 have crossed the Channel to the UK this year alone, one may begin to wonder the validity of the statistical analytical method used to arrive at these numbers and the need for such media attention in this period of greatest economic recession occasioned by the poor handling of the Pandemic. It equally puts to question the motive behind televising people fleeing in desperation at arguably the most vulnerable moment of  their lives. It appears that the impact of these obviously forced media coverage to their mental health afterwards are ignored. Some may equally argue if these media houses fully comply with the GDPR guidelines of obtaining permission before airing such unsolicited videos. It seems here that the lack of humanity and compassion expressed by human-right lawyers are fully operationalised by these media houses. Other more pressing issues of national interests should not be ignored especially where water border patrol officers are there to deal with issues of migrants crossing the Channel.