Teenage migrant found dead on beach after disappearing at sea, says French minister

Video report by ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar

A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant who disappeared at sea has been found dead on a beach near Calais, a French minister has said. Marlene Schiappa, who is in charge of citizenship within France’s government, said the teenager was found on the beach of Sangatte on Wednesday morning.

The French prefecture said the body was discovered on Wednesday morning during a huge search and rescue effort after they were notified at 1.09am that a migrant suffering from hypothermia had been found on the beach.

He was taken to hospital and told authorities he had been on a makeshift boat which had capsized.

And he said his companion, who could not swim, might still be in the water. The tragedy comes as migrants making the perilous crossing of the English Channel has been a focus of the UK Government amid a record number of journeys.

Additionally, French authorities intercepted at least 41 migrants as they tried to cross the English Channel on Wednesday.

Among them were a woman and three children who were rescued after their boat got into difficulty off the coast of Dunkirk.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dover, Kent Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has pledged to make the route “unviable”, said the death is “an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life”. “This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people,” she added. “Working together we are determined to stop them.”

Ms Shiappa also said the death highlighted the need to tackle the smugglers. “Immense sadness: A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant who disappeared in the sea last night was found dead in the beach in Sangatte this morning,” she tweeted.

Pierre-Henri Dumont, who represents the northern region of Pas-de-Calais in the French National Assembly, took aim at the British government.

In a post on Twitter discussing the incident, he said: “What we all feared happened that night.

“How many more tragedies does it need for the British to find an ounce of humanity?”

The inability to claim asylum in Great Britain without being physically present in the country “causes these tragedies”, he added.

ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan has more:

Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said: “We are absolutely devastated by the unnecessary death of this child.

“We can only imagine the fear he felt and our hearts go out to his family.

“This young boy’s death starkly demonstrates the total failure of our government to do anything to help these children who are in such desperate straits.

Migrants intercepted in the channel before being taken to a Kent port on Wednesday

"Their failure to implement the Dubs amendment; their failure to negotiate for family reunion; their failure to do anything for the people here who are simply asking for our help.

“Things need to change. We need a way for people’s asylum claims to be fairly heard without them having to risk their lives. We need this before someone else dies.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The death of a 16-year-old child in the Channel is a tragedy. My thoughts are with his loved ones.

“This is a humanitarian crisis that needs a compassionate response.”

The Bishop of Dover has called for “definitive action” to protect those “desperate enough to risk their lives” crossing the Channel to the UK.

In a plea for compassion, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin asked: “How much worse does this have to get before we take definitive action to save lives and protect the dignity of people who have been pushed to take such desperate measures?”

The Bishop of Dover added: “Today we mourn the death of a young boy, found washed up on the beach in northern France.

“A teenager just like any other – one with hopes and dreams, a need for safety and security.

“My heart is so full of sadness for his family and I send them my love and my prayers.

“People who try to cross the Channel seeking safety and security are not criminals – they are human beings, like you and I.

“Human beings who should be afforded the dignity and respect and rights that so many of us take for granted.

“It is a travesty that this young man will never see his hoped-for future, that his family has been deprived of seeing him grow up.”

Meanwhile, in Dover, children were among more than 50 migrants who arrived on boats on Wednesday morning.

Urgent discussions between Kent County Council and the Government took place on Tuesday over where to house migrant children who travel to the UK without family.

It emerged earlier in the week that any new, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children would be left with Border Force after Kent County Council announced it had reached capacity.

More than 4,700 migrants have reached the UK by small boat this year, analysis by the PA news agency shows.