On the Kent coast, locals fear they will see more deaths as migrants keep crossing

There was a sense of calm after the storm on a bitterly cold Saturday on the 肯特郡 coast. A morning of fierce rain and high winds eventually gave way to a dry, dark afternoon in which the sun never threatened to penetrate the heavy cloud cover over Dover Marina pier.

“We doubt very much that people will try to cross in the storm – hopefully they don’t,” said Kay Marsh, a volunteer with Channel Rescue. The organisation works to support people arriving by carrying out shore-spotting patrols along the Kent coast and documenting Border Force interceptions. 确实, the only two Border Force vessels in sight, HMC Eagle and HMC Speedwell, were stationed in the marina at Dover western docks, with only each other for company.

有效, Channel Rescue is the antithesis of the self-proclaimed “migrant hunters”, far-right agitators who carry out their own patrols, supposedly in support of the UK Border force but Channel Rescue says these expeditions boil down to “harassment”.

The dog walkers and older couples brave enough to venture out towards the choppy seas had to cope with deafening winds. “We obviously have sympathy for those who died,” shouted Mike, 67, above the din. “We can take 2,000, 当然, but I personally think this country is not big enough for 26,000… We’ve got British homeless people on the streets. We can’t house them, how are we going to house migrants?”

He added that: “the majority are nice people but the minority – maybe 5% – are not nice people … we don’t want them dying but we don’t want them here either.”

But few other people appeared to share that view. Dover port worker, Rob Uttley, 51, said that “locally, people have become hardened to the regular crossings – whether we like it or not the UK is a multicultural society now.”

Uttley expressed concern that people in the area were still in the dark as to why people were willing to risk their lives attempting to land in the UK. “Perhaps our government makes it more attractive for people to come here than other countries in Europe. But personally I believe it’s more about people coming here because they either have family here or they speak the language.

“These are human beings. It’s upsetting to see anyone lose their lives; the British government need to work with the French government to find a solution.”

By the marina is Tug Haven, the short term detention facility where arrivals from across the Kent coast are taken for “processing” before being taken by coach to London, and elsewhere. Set back behind high fences, the facility amounts to a number of containers where soaking wet arrivals are often held for hours. 去年, the chief inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, said the reception arrangements at Tug Haven were “not fit for even small numbers”.

“It’s been traumatic,”说 Bridget Chapman of Kent Refugee Action Network. “It’s not illegal to cross the Channel to seek asylum. People in government who should know better keep using the word ‘illegal’ or asking why don’t people just stay in France – most people that arrive in France do stay in France – besides they have every right to seek asylum in the UK.”

Chapman added that the adverse weather conditions only increased the urgency of the situation in the Channel and the pressure incumbent on emergency services.

“People coming in are going to be suffering from hypothermia. I think people think we can stop these crossings by just being tougher, meaner, nastier, that’s a complete misunderstanding of the situation. The UK is their destination and they are going to make that journey – we either make it more difficult – more deaths – or we find a way to work with and manage the situation.”

她补充说: “Unless we find a better option for these people we will see more deaths.”

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