France lists the victims of the tragedy of the boats of migrants from the Channel, mainly Iraqi Kurds
French authorities said on Tuesday they had formally identified 26 of the 27 migrants who drowned in a boat crash in the English Channel last month, most of whom are Kurds from Iraq.
A statement from the Paris prosecutor’s office said that among the deceased were 17 men aged 19 to 26, seven women aged 22 to 46, as well as a 16-year-old teenager and a seven-year-old child.
Sixteen of the victims were Iraqi Kurds, four were Afghans. Three Ethiopians, a Somali, as well as an Iranian and an Egyptian made up the others.
Authorities often have difficulty identifying deceased migrants as they do not carry official documents, and family members frequently have to travel from remote areas abroad to view the bodies.
Afghan photojournalist Abdul Saboor told AFP last week how he met an Iraqi Kurdish family who were among the victims a week before their deaths.
Even though they had just been expelled from a camp on the north coast of France, they insisted on sharing the few snacks they had with him, he recalls.
“The boy wanted to become a hairdresser, the (eldest) girl an art teacher,” he said. They had asked him about the weather in England. “They were very nice, very endearing.
Sharing photos he had taken of them on his Twitter account, he wrote: “Their dreams will forever be lost between the two borders.”
Last week I met Kazhall and his family after being evicted from their camp. Today, I learned of their tragic death in the shipwreck that killed 27 people last Wednesday. Their dreams will remain forever lost between the two borders. pic.twitter.com/SEMQIphIdF
– Abdul Saboor (@AbdulSaboorJan) November 28, 2021 “It was his choice”
When news of the disaster broke, families rushed to the coroner’s office in Lille, northern France, to see if their loved ones were among the victims.
One of the dead was Hussein, a 24-year-old Afghan who had arrived in Dunkirk a few days earlier at the home of his 18-year-old cousin, Amanullah Omakhil.
The two were very close, having made the journey into exile together in 2016. When Hussein said he was going to try his luck on the crossing, Amanullah said, he did not try to talk him out of it.
“It was his choice. he was older than me, I couldn’t tell him ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that,’ “he told AFP.
French investigators are still trying to get a better idea of what happened during the disaster.
They are investigating reports that the passengers telephoned the French and British emergency services, calling for help when the ship began to sink, as a survivor told Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw.
The crash was the deadliest involving a migrant boat in the English Channel and highlighted the growing number of desperate people seeking to cross the narrow waterway between France and England.
It also caused significant diplomatic tensions between London and Paris.
Within 48 hours of the crash, French President Emmanuel Macron accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “not serious” in his approach to stop the crossings.
France was upset by Johnson’s initial reaction, seen as blaming France, and then by his decision to write a letter to Macron which he posted in full on his Twitter account before the French leader receive it.
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