Channel migrants: Kurdish-Iranian family died after boat sank

Channel migrants: Kurdish-Iranian family died after boat sank

Four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family died in the Channel when a boat they were travelling in sank – and their 15-month-old boy remains missing.

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, were crossing from France to the UK on Tuesday, the BBC has established.

Their baby, Artin, has yet to be found.

Fifteen other migrants were taken to hospital and an investigation into the sinking has been opened in Dunkirk by the French public prosecutor.

The family were from the city of Sardasht in western Iran, near to the border with Iraq, BBC international affairs correspondent Jiyar Gol said.

by Jiyar Gol, BBC international affairs correspondent

Shiva and Rasoul were two of thousands of Iranian-Kurdish refugees that every year put the lives of their families in the hands of smugglers and go to Europe.

The Kurdish region in Iran has faced both political persecution and economic disparity.

Rasoul’s friend, a refugee in Dunkirk, told me in a phone call the family left Iran on 7 August for Turkey, then took a ferry to Italy and then drove to France almost a month ago.

They paid €24,000 (about £21,600) to the smugglers.

Rasoul’s brother in the Kurdish city of Sardasht in Western Iran, in a phone call told me his brother sold everything to save his life and seek a better future for his family.

Four bodies lie in a hospital in Dunkirk, but 15-month-old Artin is still missing.

The French coastguard confirmed searches at sea for any further people from the boat did not resume on Wednesday.

Conditions in the English Channel had been rough early on Tuesday and the boat was spotted about 2km (1.2 miles) off the French coast by a passing sailing boat at about 09:30 local time, which alerted French authorities.

Four French vessels, one Belgian helicopter and a French fishing boat took part in the rescue and a search operation. But by the time rescue teams reached the struggling boat, it had already sunk.

Charity Care4Calais said the “loss of life should be a wake-up call for those in power in France and the UK”.

It said creating a new system that would allow asylum seekers to apply for refuge in the UK from outside its borders would “put an end to terrifying, dangerous sea crossings and stop tragedy striking again”.

Save The Children called for a “joint plan” from London and Paris to ensure the safety of vulnerable families, adding: “The English Channel must not become a graveyard for children.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with the victims’ loved ones.

“We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident, and will do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey on vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys,” he added.

Leave a Reply