Man arrested after 27 migrants die in mass drowning in the English Channel a year ago

At least 27 people drowned while trying to cross the English Channel in a dinghy last year Credit: PA/Wires

A man has been arrested in the UK in connection with the deaths of at least 27 people who drowned while trying to cross the English Channel in a dinghy last year.

Harem Ahmed Abwbaker was detained at an address in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, at around 6.45am on Tuesday, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

The 32-year-old is accused of being a member of an organised crime gang behind the crossing in November 2021.

All but two of the migrants on board died after the boat sank. Four people are still missing.

The inflatable dinghy sunk in the water between Calais and Dunkirk, northern France, after setting off for Britain's shores.

A lifeboat escorting a dinghy carrying people thought to be migrants, off the coast of Dungeness on 20 November 2021 Credit: PA

Harem Ahmed Abwbaker is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday for extradition proceedings.

NCA deputy director Craig Turner said: "This is a significant arrest, and comes as part of extensive inquiries into the events leading to these tragic deaths in the Channel.

"The individual detained today is suspected of having played a key role in the manslaughter of those who died.

"Working closely with our French partners we are determined to do all we can to get justice for the families of those whose lives were lost, and disrupt and dismantle the cruel organised criminal networks involved in people smuggling."

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "My thoughts continue to be with the families of all of those who tragically lost their lives in this horrendous incident.

"I thank the NCA and other agencies across the UK and France for their tireless work to deliver justice for the victims and their families by identifying those we believe to be responsible and ensuring they feel the full force of the law."

The deaths of the migrants was described as the worst loss of life in the Dover Straits - since World War Two.

Meanwhile it's reported that the Government is reviewing plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated "safe" countries to tackle the migrant crisis.

More than 42,600 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year.

The Ministry of Defence said 426 people made the journey yesterday alone.

The Home Secretary  is believed to be looking at identifying  a list of countries deemed by the Home Office to be "safe" ,  so migrants can be returned rapidly.

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