Amnesty International to hold vigil at Sunderland Minster for 27 who drowned in Channel crossing

Amnesty International is to mark Human Rights Day with a vigil at Sunderland Minster to remember the 27 people who died in the English Channel last month.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 11:46 am

At 1pm on Friday, December 10, Amnesty’s Wearside branch will hold the vigil in memory of the 27 who drowned on November 24 during a desperate attempt to claim asylum.

The victims were 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children. Five people have been arrested in connection with the fatal crossing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled” by the disaster and said the Government would leave “no stone unturned” to stop human trafficking.

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Amnesty International's vigil will be held at Sunderland Minster on Friday, December 10 at 1pm.

France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin said that just two people were rescued, while the International Organisation for Migration said it was the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014.

The vigil will be addressed by Reverend Chris Howson, chaplain at the University of Sunderland as well as associate priest at the minster.

If the names of the dead are released in time, they will be read out by 27 attendees of the vigil, which is expected to last 30-60 minutes. So far only one woman, 24 year-old Baran Nuri Muhamadamin from Iraqi Kurdistan, has been named. Everyone is welcome to attend the event.

Human Rights Day is marked every December 10; the anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One of the rights enshrined in it is the right to seek asylum from persecution.

Amnesty wants more action on the Channel crossings.

Steve Newman, secretary of Wearside Amnesty International Group, said: “Amnesty International continues to call on the UK government to provide safe and legal routes for asylum seekers so that they are not at the mercy of people smugglers and hostile weather conditions.

“The Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament does not do this and is likely to force more people to attempt perilous journeys, such as the one which had such tragic consequences two weeks ago.”

The Dover Strait is the world’s busiest busiest shipping lane and has claimed the lives of many people trying to cross to Britain in inflatable dinghies.

At least 10 other people are understood to have died in recent weeks while attempting to cross the Channel.

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