Vigil in Thanet to mark one year anniversary of Channel crossing deaths ahead of Manston discussion

Protestors at Manston earlier this month Photo Frank Leppard

A vigil will be held outside Thanet council’s offices in Margate this evening (November 24) to mark the one year anniversary of at least 27 deaths when a small boat carrying people across the Channel capsized.

The men, women and children aboard died in the sea. There were officially 27 dead but it is likely that five people on the boat who were never found also died.

Initially five arrests were made in connection with the incident. Earlier this year National Crime Agency officers assisted an operation in France which resulted in more than a dozen further arrests in connection with the deaths.

OCRIEST, the French border police unit targeting immigration crime, arrested 15 people across locations in France in June, as part of a joint investigation being carried out with the NCA.

NCA officers based in the UK and internationally worked with colleagues in OCRIEST and other international partners to provide evidence to identify those who were arrested in France.

Among those held in the operation were nationals of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and France. They are suspected of being part of a network of facilitators who organised places on the boat for a number of those who died. They are subject to French judicial proceedings.

The vigil at 6pm tonight is being held outside the council offices because councillors at a scrutiny meeting are due to discuss the topic of Manston holding facility.

Protestor Christine Tongue said: “This vigil is one of many being held across the country to mark the terrible deaths of 27 men, women and children who a year ago died crossing the channel seeking asylum.

“While we will be remembering the people who died so tragically trying to come to Britain, we will not forget the plight of the refugees who’ve actually made it here.”

Protesters want an investigation into the conditions at the Manston centre, which the Home Office says is now empty. At one point some 4000 people were at the centre which was designed to process up to 1,600 people at any one time within a 24/48 hour period. However, high numbers of small boat crossings, a firebomb incident in Dover that ecessitated the move of 700 people and backlogs in the asylum claim system meant some people had been at the centre much longer than the mandated limit.

The Public and Commercial Services union has claimed that the rapid removal of people out of Manston processing centre came after the union, , Detention Action and a woman held at the facility issued legal action against Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

The complaint against the Home Secretary contends the woman was detained:

  • in excess of statutory time limits;
  • in overcrowded, unhygienic and unsafe conditions that constitute inhuman or degrading treatment;
  • beyond the legal powers of the home secretary;
  • contrary to the government’s published detention policy;
  • in violation of the right not to be detained arbitrarily;
  • in inadequate conditions with a lack of privacy, where she was denied telephone access to family members and lawyers.

PCS head of bargaining Paul O’Connor said: “The conditions at Manston that refugees and our members have had to endure recently have been a disgrace. We’re pleased the Home Secretary has been forced to respond to our concerns but we shouldn’t have needed to resort to the threat of legal action before they were addressed.

“The government’s entire approach on asylum is a failure. Our members need the time, space and resources to deliver a functioning system free from the type of crisis management we see all too often.

“It’s time to design a system based on a rational assessment of need and for the Home Secretary to drop her increasingly irrational rhetoric on the issue.”

A government spokesperson said: “The global migration crisis continues to place an unprecedented and unsustainable strain on our asylum system, which is why we remain focussed on deterring illegal migration and disrupting the criminal gangs responsible for these dangerous crossings.”


  1. UK net migration hits all-time record at 504,000 . this is this years up until June.

    Yes it is sad but with these sort of numbers accidents will happen.

    I wonder how many road deaths in this country out of 504,000.

    • Because there are some regular frequenters of the comment section on this site who have very little humanity and very little humility unfortunately. Let’

    • Where are the nasty comments? I dont want people to risk their lives, and Id feel incredibly guilty if I had been someone who encouraged people to do so.

      In terms of the incident itself, its always sad when the media make you aware of things happening, thats what they do, constantly.

  2. I am not racist but,there are too many of them!
    How many times have we heard that?
    Ok the overall figure for migration is 504000.A record figure.
    But 504k did not come here in rubber dinghies.
    That figure is 73000 or 14.5% of the total.
    170,000 came from Ukraine and 73000 came from Hong Kong.
    277000 came to study.
    The 504k figure is a net figure after calculating immigration from emigration.
    EU immigration is a negative.
    The Ukrainians will return once their country stops being attacked. The students will return and we will have many old people to look after.
    We need the workers,we need to increase and improve training and we need to sort out why so many are economically inactive.
    Part of the reason Thanet is in a state is because so many don’t want to pickup a book and get trained.Too many are in low skill work and there too many employers wishing to exploit them.
    If we had zero migration the place would not improve, but unscrupulous politicians scheme and lie so they can exploit the credulous.

    • Wouldn’t it be great if we could swap all the losers in the UK for all the asylum seekers wanting to come here.

      Even the ones on the boats who are only coming to claim benefits would probably be better than the equivalent that are here now. They might even decide to get a job once they realise they could make a bit more doing something, and less likely to have drug and alcohol problems.

      Unfortunately that wont happen and we are adding to our problems instead.

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