Death in the Channel

Death of young Sudanese man on Calais coast as he tries to reach the UK – Report by Barbara Kentish

The memorial plaques on the Dover seafront are a respectful reminder of the tragic deaths which now occur far too often in the English Channel between France and England, as people try to reach our shores.  Representatives of Westminster Justice and Peace have taken part in remembrance services there, including just two months ago for the 20th anniversary of the 58 Chinese migrants found dead in a lorry at Dover, so that those who die far from home are given the dignity they deserve. 

Now floral tributes have been laid at the newest memorial in memory of Abdulfatah Hamdallah (known as “Wadji”).  He was a young man from Sudan  who drowned while attempting to cross the Channel from France to seek asylum in the UK a few days ago.   The wreath, in the colours of the Sudanese flag, carries a message based upon his last Facebook post: “On the palm of fate we walk, and don’t know what’s written. Your’s was written too short, may your freedom in the Hereafter long live”.

Ben Bano, Co-Director of Seeking Sanctuary, and partner, through People Not Walls, with Justice and Peace,  commented: `This tragic death reminds us  of the risks that desperate  people take in order to find sanctuary. A life full of  hope and  opportunity has been lost, like many others who have in recent years. Let us mourn them and remember them – in the words of Pope Francis, “Every migrant has a name, a face and a story.”

French NGOs, some now having to organise a funeral, and welcome mourning relatives from overseas,  will mount a protest  on September 26th against the denial of basic water, food and sanitation to those fleeing persecution on the north coast.  Here in England we plan to do the same.  People wonder why so many little boats are arriving on our shores.  Humanitarian abuses on the north coast of France raise instead  the question as to why more don’t come, and whether we will see further tragedies, such as that of Abdulfatah Hamdallah.  May all those who are travelling at such risk reach safe havens.