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16-year-old Sudanese migrant found dead on French beach after disappearing at sea

 The RNLI tows a small boat into Dover, Kent, following a number of small boat incidents in the Channel on August 15 2020. Picture by Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Sam Blewett and Michael Drummond, PA

A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant has been found dead on a French beach after officials were told a makeshift boat had capsized at sea.

Another migrant, suffering from hypothermia, reported in the early hours of today that a companion who could not swim was missing and may still be in the water, France's prefecture for the English Channel said.

At 8am, border police were informed of the discovery of a teenager's body on the beach at Sangatte, just outside the port city of Calais.

The tragedy came as migrants making the perilous crossing of the English Channel have been a focus of the British Government amid a record number of journeys.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has pledged to make the route "unviable", said the death is "an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life".

"This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people," she added.

"Working together we are determined to stop them."

Ms Shiappa also said the death highlighted the need to tackle the smugglers.

"Immense sadness: A 16-year-old Sudanese migrant who disappeared in the sea last night was found dead in the beach in Sangatte this morning," she tweeted.

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Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said: "We are absolutely devastated by the unnecessary death of this child.

"We can only imagine the fear he felt and our hearts go out to his family.

"These young boys in Calais are our friends. They are fun to be with despite the horrors they have been through. Some are cheeky, some are smart, some like football, some like books. None deserve to be here and none deserve to die alone in the sea.

"This young boy's death starkly demonstrates the total failure of our government to do anything to help these children who are in such desperate straits. Their failure to implement the Dubs amendment; their failure to negotiate for family reunion; their failure to do anything for the people here who are simply asking for our help.

"Things need to change. We need a way for people's asylum claims to be fairly heard without them having to risk their lives. We need this before someone else dies."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on Twitter of the 16-year-old's death: "Utterly heartbreaking. By closing safe routes to seek asylum we are pushing desperate people into dangerous situations with devastating consequences.

"Our Govt must make protecting and saving lives a priority in their approach to English Channel crossings."

The death came as it emerged that Yarl's Wood women's immigration removal centre in Bedford is temporarily being used to house migrants following the increase in crossings.

The Home Office said the small number of women who were being held there have now been moved to other detention facilities but Yarl's Wood could still be used for female detainees at short notice.

Meanwhile in Dover, children were among dozens of migrants who arrived this morning.

More than 50 people were taken into the Kent port aboard a lifeboat and a Border Force vessel.

The fresh arrivals came amid urgent discussions on where to house migrant children who travel to the UK without family.

It emerged earlier in the week that any new, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children would be left with Border Force after Kent County Council announced it had reached capacity.

Charities say the situation is a "scandal" and a "political failure", calling on the government to urgently find a way forward.

More than 4,700 migrants have reached the UK by small boat this year, analysis by the PA news agency shows.

Ms Patel last year pledged that the crossings would be an "infrequent phenomenon" by now and has since insisted she is working to make the route "completely unviable".

Read more: Fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras - a migrant's journey to the US

Urgent discussions between Kent County Council and the government took place yesterday over where to house migrant children who travel to the UK without family.

Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, described the situation as a "scandal" and said it "should be a source of deep shame for this Government".

She added: "This is a political failure, pure and simple. The government must urgently U-turn and ensure that vulnerable children are immediately taken into care rather than detained in prison-like facilities."

Migrant charity worker Bridget Chapman, of the Kent Refugee Action Network, said: "We are devastated to learn of the death of a 16-year-old boy in Sangatte.

"This death was completely avoidable. Along with many other migrant and refugee organisations we have been calling for safe passage for some time now.

"Meanwhile the government's response has been both chaotic and callous, and utterly against the proud British tradition of offering refuge to those in need.

"The government needs to step up to its humanitarian responsibility immediately and ensure safe and legal passage so that we avoid any more unnecessary deaths."

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