France says mostly Iraqi Kurds dead in Channel tragedy

France says mostly Iraqi Kurds dead in Channel tragedy
2 min read
14 December, 2021
A statement from the Paris prosecutor said that there were 17 men among the deceased aged 19-26, seven women aged 22-46, as well as a 16-year-old teenager and a child aged seven.
French President Emmanuel Macron accused the UK of being "not serious" in its approach to stopping the crossings [Getty]

French authorities said Tuesday that they had formally identified 26 out of 27 refugees who drowned last month in a Channel boat accident, with most of them Kurds from Iraq.

A statement from the Paris prosecutor said that there were 17 men among the deceased aged 19-26, seven women aged 22-46, as well as a 16-year-old teenager and a child aged seven.

Sixteen of the victims were Kurds from Iraq, four were Afghan men. Three Ethiopians, a Somalian woman, as well as an Iranian and an Egyptian man made up the others.

Authorities often have difficulties identifying dead refugees because they do not carry official documents and their family members frequently have to travel from remote areas overseas to see the bodies.

The accident was the most deadly involving a migrant boat in the Channel and cast a spotlight on the increasing number of desperate people seeking to cross the narrow waterway between France and England.

It also caused major diplomatic tensions between London and Paris.

Within 48 hours of the accident, French President Emmanuel Macron accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being "not serious" in his approach to stopping the crossings.

France was irked by Johnson's initial reaction, which was seen as deflecting blame onto France, and then by his decision to write a letter to Macron which he published in full on his Twitter account before the French leader had received it.