Three Arrested for Links With Death of Migrants at English Channel

The UK’s National Crime Agency said last week that three men were detained on suspicion of facilitating illegal migration in connection to the deaths of five people who attempted to cross the English Channel on April 23.

Five migrants, including a 7-year-old girl and a woman, died after the heavily overcrowded boat carrying them from France to England encountered trouble off the coast of Pas-de-Calais early last Tuesday morning.

According to a statement from the regional prefecture, authorities spotted several migrant vessels attempting to depart northern France in the early morning of April 23. French naval ships intervened and were forced to rescue more than 100 people aboard one vessel, however, five aboard drowned, and their bodies were later found washed up on the beach.

The National Crime Agency identified the suspects as two Sudanese citizens and a citizen of South Sudan. The men were apprehended in an overnight raid by officers from the National Crime Agency and Immigration Enforcement.

The three suspects were initially questioned at a Kent police station and were expected to face further questioning, the National Crime Agency said.

The arrests came just one day after the UK Parliament approved Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s proposal to begin sending some migrants to Rwanda.

The Sunak government proposed deporting illegal migrants to the African country as a way to deter others from making the risky journey across the English Channel in leaky, overcrowded vessels.

Human rights groups have decried the plan as inhumane. The UN refugee agency and the EU last Tuesday urged the UK to reconsider the plan, arguing that it could interfere with international efforts to address the migrant crisis.

In 2022, the number of migrants arriving in the UK in boats skyrocketed to more than 45,000, as criminal gangs were paid thousands of pounds to transport them across the Channel.

Last year, the number of migrants fell to less than 30,000 after the UK government began to crack down on human smugglers.