DH | Fishermen pick up 19 refugees from boat off coast of France

The boat from which 17 adults and two children were rescued in the English Channel. (SNSM Dunkerque photo)

URK–A group of fishermen from the Dutch fishing village of Urk have rescued nineteen asylum seekers from a boat in the English Channel, including a toddler and a baby, according to a French Coast Guard report.

The group, consisting of 16 men, one woman and two children, were some seven kilometres off the French coast from Dunkirk when they were picked up by the Urk boat, which sails under a Belgian flag.

The French Coast Guard had received a report that a boat was in trouble and as the vessel named Hennie was closest, it was asked to check out the situation.

The five-strong Dutch crew found the refugees, all thought to come from Iraq, in a small boat, with 30 centimetres of water in the bottom.

“It was in the middle of the night and you could see nothing,” skipper Tiemen Klaas Wezelman told Dutch radio show “Nieuws en Co.”

The boat had drifted away from its original location due to the strong current but was spotted thanks to the flashlight on a mobile phone.

The fishermen took the group of refugees on board, gave them food and coffee and dry clothes. The French Coast Guard arrived to take them back to France after around 20 minutes.

The refugees were all said to be suffering from mild hypothermia and have been handed over to French border police.

“Seeing the mother and baby like that shakes you to the core,” Wezelman said. “You hear about these things happening but you never see it for yourself… these people still had 40 miles to go to reach England. They had no idea what they had gotten themselves into,” he said.

Bron: Daily Herald

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