We are heartbroken yet again by the utterly tragic and avoidable loss of human life in the Channel recently. So many of those we work with, our friends and colleagues, were forced to make dangerous journeys in search of safety, so we feel this personally. There must be safe routes now for those who need to claim asylum in the UK before more people die. Thank you to the fishing crew and RNLI for saving lives and showing the humanity that is so lacking elsewhere. This happened the day after the UK government announced yet more punitive and potentially unlawful plans on asylum that will do nothing to tackle the root causes of record levels of displacement and contained no detail on safe, legal routes for asylum seekers.
Recently, Kaiwan, an English teacher and businessman from Iraqi Kurdistan, sat down in our office and told us how, a year ago in December 2021, he waded into the Channel up to his chest in the early hours of the morning to climb aboard a small boat to the UK. He described the size of the waves, the coldness of the water, the terrifying experience and the brutality of the smugglers. Kaiwan is a gentle, thoughtful, articulate man who never imagined he would become a refugee and be forced to go through such an ordeal to find safety. Those who died in the freezing waters of the Channel recently will have had similar stories to tell. We find it unbearable that no one will hear those stories now.