Channel crossings: 16-year-old Sudanese boy washed up on French beach after drowning trying to reach UK

A 16-year-old Sudanese boy has drowned in the English Channel while trying to reach the UK.

French authorities announced the death after his body was washed up on a beach on Wednesday morning.

Marlène Schiappa, France’s citizenship minister, said she felt “immense sadness”.

“A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant who disappeared at sea last night has been found dead on Sangatte beach this morning,” she wrote on Twitter.

“This unbearable tragedy moves us even more with [French interior minister] Gérald Darmanin against smugglers who take advantage of the distress of human beings.”

The boy is one of several migrants to have died while attempting to reach the UK in recent years.

Priti Patel called the boy’s death an “upsetting and tragic loss of a young life”.

The home secretary added: “This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people. Working together we are determined to stop them.”

Last week, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for the British and French governments to make saving lives the “first priority”.

A parliamentary report released in November also called for the UK government to increase search and rescue operations and found its own policies were “pushing migrants to take more dangerous routes”.

The Foreign Affairs Committee, which Ms Patel served on at the time, found that government policy was “pushing migrants into the hands of criminal groups” by focusing on closing borders rather than addressing the root causes of migration.

David Simmonds, the Conservative co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, told The Independent there was no formal count of people who had died attempting to reach Britain.

“We have no idea at the moment how many people have been lost in the Channel but historically we know that people have drowned and their bodies have never been discovered,” he said.

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