British authorities have apprehended an individual as part of an ongoing investigation into the death of a woman who is believed to have tragically lost her life while attempting to cross the English Channel in a small boat. The UK’s National Crime Agency announced the arrest on Wednesday.
The detainee is a 21-year-old Sudanese man who was taken into custody in the southern English port city of Dover. He is being held on charges of illegal entry and facilitating illegal immigration. It is suspected that he was piloting a boat that reached British waters on Tuesday.
The arrest followed the discovery of a woman’s body on a local beach in the French town of Blériot-Plage, near Calais, on Tuesday. Authorities in Calais identified the victim as a 24-year-old Eritrean migrant, who is believed to have fallen from a boat while attempting to cross the English Channel.
The Pas-de-Calais regional administration confirmed that French authorities are leading the investigation into the woman’s death, with support from British law enforcement agencies.
Craig Turner, the deputy director of the National Crime Agency, stated that both countries are collaborating closely “to identify those responsible for this tragic death.”
Under the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the UK has adopted a more stringent approach towards individuals arriving in the country through unauthorized means, particularly in the case of small boats crossing the perilous English Channel. In 2022, over 45,000 people arrived in Britain by boat from northern France, a significant increase from 28,000 in 2021 and 8,500 in 2020.
Since the beginning of this year, close to 24,000 migrants have arrived on British shores via small boats, highlighting the ongoing challenges posed by irregular migration routes.
The investigation into the woman’s death underscores the pressing need for international cooperation and concerted efforts to address the underlying factors driving such perilous journeys, while also ensuring the safety and security of those seeking refuge or a better life.