We all need to treat people seeking asylum in Kent as human beings

Treat them as human beings.

That’s the general message that came out of the vigil in Dover as people paid tribute to those who tragically died while crossing the English Channel last week.

I could feel the pain and sadness as I was walking along the seafront.

READ MORE: Candlelit vigil held in Dover in remembrance of English Channel tragedy

Attendees braved the cold weather and rain to get their voices heard.

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They are fed up, tired and angry at the Government for not putting in place safe and legal routes for those seeking asylum.

A few vigils have been organised in the south east to remember the 27 people who lost their lives last week – including a pregnant woman and three children.

It makes you wonder what is being done to protect those lives.

People gathered in Dover to pay their respect
People gathered in Dover to pay their respect

It breaks my heart knowing that more desperate people will risk their lives on dangerous crossings.

I was staring at the waves crashing on the shore and all I could think of was how scared those people with hope and dreams must feel while attempting this journey.

I spent part of the evening speaking to people who urged the British and French governments to find a solution as they fear more deaths are yet to come.

This vigil was held just days after home secretary Priti Patel was disinvited to a meeting with French officials about the crisis after Boris Johnson called on France to “take back people” who crossed the Channel to the UK in small boats.

Why KentLive uses the word ‘people’ when referring to ‘migrants’

KentLive uses the term people when referring to those who cross the Channel and arrive on our shores.

That’s because, regardless of their status at the point of entry, those moving from one country to the other are human beings.

You will have seen them commonly referred to as migrants. This is not incorrect.

The UN Migration Agency defines a migrant as – any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, what the causes for the movement are, or what the length of the stay is.

KentLive also refers to people in these circumstances as refugees.

The UN definition of refugees is – people who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalised violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.

Inflatable rubber boats which set off from northern France have become more common in Dover as tighter UK border controls meant there were more attempts being made by boat.

This year alone, more than 25,000 people crossed the Channel, up from around 8,500 in 2020.

According to residents, those journeys used to mainly occur during summer as it was easier to travel by boat.

It is certainly worrying to see families, including children risking their lives on a regular basis to settle in the UK.

Local residents peacefully stand behind ‘Safe Routes Now’ written in the sand on Sunny Sands Beach
Local residents peacefully stand behind ‘Safe Routes Now’ written in the sand on Sunny Sands Beach

Over the past few days, heartless comments have emerged on social media along with angry and laughing emojis reacting to the tragedy.

Some write “it was their choice” or “I think our war vets and homeless are more important than this”, while others have said: “Yes it’s sad what happened but if they stayed put they would be alive.”

It’s heartbreaking to see some showing no compassion and simply forgetting that human lives were lost.

People paid the ultimate price for trying to better themselves and carve out a brighter future by seeking refuge in the UK.

Article Source: Kent Live