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Man whose family drowned in Channel boat disaster sues French state for damages

Campaign groups for migrants' rights have revealed that an Ethiopian man whose wife and two children were among 27 people who drowned in 2021 when their boat capsized in the English Channel had filed a complaint for damages.

Fikeru Shiferaw's family was on board the inflatable vessel during the early hours of 24 November when it started to take in water and eventually capsized. Two people survived and four remain missing.

Failing to respond

French authorities have been accused of failing to respond to around 15 calls for help. Prosecutors last year charged seven military personnel for failing to assist persons in danger.

Utopia 56 and the French Human Rights League (LDH) said Shiferaw had filed the request for damages with a court in the northern city of Lille.

Nikolai Posner, of Utopia 56, said his group hoped the families of other victims would join the lawsuit which is believed to be the first of its kind since the English Channel became a key route for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia attempting to reach England from France.

Legal case

They sent their locations via WhatsApp around 15 minutes later.

"Yes – but you are in English waters," the coastguard replied.


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