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Ipswich to hold vigil to mark death of teenage migrant on beach

PUBLISHED: 13:52 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:52 20 August 2020

The vigil will take place on Ipswich's Cornhill. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

The vigil will take place on Ipswich's Cornhill. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Archant

Candles will be lit on Ipswich’s Cornhill during a vigil for a teenage migrant who died trying to cross Channel - with organisers saying: “We need to take action to show these people matter.”

The vigil will take place on Ipswich's Cornhill. Picture: ARCHANTThe vigil will take place on Ipswich's Cornhill. Picture: ARCHANT

A 16-year-old boy from Sudan, who went missing while it is believed he was attempting to cross the English Channel in a small boat, was this week found dead on a French beach.

His death has sparked a widespread emotional reaction, with immigration minister Chris Philp saying the government will work with France to find a way of “completely stopping these boat crossings, which are facilitated by ruthless criminals and which risk lives”.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, has said: “It should not be the case that people feel they have no choice but to make such dangerous journeys in their search for protection.

“We need countries to work together to provide the best humanitarian outcome.”

In Ipswich, a group of people of come together to organise a socially-distanced vigil in memory of the boy - as well as other lives lost by those trying to cross the Channel seeking refuge - at 6pm on Friday, August 21.

Lauren Leggatt, one of the event’s organisers, said: “It’s a vigil for the lives lost in the Channel and, specifically, the young boy who died this week.

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“Ipswich is a town that, on the whole, welcomes refugees. We have done in the past and this is a really important thing for us to do in the town to remember his life and send a clear message that we welcome refugees.

“It’s a life that shouldn’t have been lost. It was lost because of how desperate people are for a better life.

“I felt heartbroken when I saw it. I still do.

“The media and the government seem so focused on portraying the migrant crisis that we’re forgetting these people are humans - and that someone died because he was trying to seek a better life.

“Yet we dehumanise them and all we hear is that we need to stop refugees and migrants crossing the Channel.

“We really need to take action to show these people matter and their lives matter. We can’t have that hostile attitude towards them - these people are humans.”

The issue of migrants crossing the Channel has long been a divisive political issue, with bitter disagreements on both sides.

However Miss Leggatt, who works as an administrative support officer, said it was important for even those who disagree to keep lines of communication open, to discuss the issue and find the best solution.


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