39 Chinese migrants

Tragic Death of 39 Migrants Found in Essex: Why Did it Happen?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned those responsible for the death of 39 Vietnamese and Chinese citizens, found dead in a lorry trailer in Essex after being smuggled into the UK.

39 migrants
39 migrants were found deceased in a lorry this week. [BBC]

However, Johnson’s promise that those responsible will be “hunted down and brought to justice” comes only weeks after Johnson made threats of deportation, promising to send ‘illegal’ migrants back regardless of the humanitarian complexities. Johnson’s apparent determination to see justice served are at odds with his Government’s savage immigration policies and cultural condemnation that force those seeking asylum and refugee in the UK down desperate routes.

Sulaiha Ali of Duncan Lewis Solicitors said:

“China is a main source for men, women and children who are lured to the UK and other European destinations on the promise of a legitimate job, only to be subjected to forced labour or sex work on arrival. These are people with genuine protection needs and there needs to be recognition that they are forced to make these desperate choices because their lives are at risk in their home country.”

Little is known about the specific background of those found in the trailer yet, but it is highly likely each person was extremely vulnerable.

Distressed individuals seeking safety from human rights violations in their home countries are facing more barriers than ever when it comes to seeking asylum or refuge in the UK.

Olivia Iannelli, research analyst for Trilateral Research and an expert voice regarding research into human trafficking, stated:

“These individuals were irregular migrants, which are often targeted by human traffickers. They were clearly trying to enter the UK, perhaps they were economically vulnerable, trying to escape persecution or look for other opportunities.”

China features in a Government report as the fourth most likely country of origin for victims of modern slavery. Chinese women were the majority ethnicity for women trapped in immigration detention in 2018, often victims of sexual exploitation.

Distressed individuals seeking safety from human rights violations in their home countries are facing more barriers than ever when it comes to seeking asylum or refuge in the UK. The UK is home to less than 1% of the world’s refugees with the aftermath of the hostile environment immigration policy still a terrifying option for potential refugees, at risk of losing family and at the mercy of a brutal, unforgiving immigration system.

Refugees in Britain who were forced to go through traumatic experiences have expressed their condolences for the 39 lives lost, the news bringing back triggering memories of their own journeys to escape persecution, warning that as long as the British Government makes it near impossible for people to seek asylum in the UK the more desperate individuals will be forced to resort to such dangerous decisions.

Annette Elder of Elder Rahimi solicitors said: “Politicians express regret for the deaths and at the same time act to reduce family reunification rights and fail to act to fulfil even the limited legal obligations that are accepted.”

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: “Nobody should be in any doubt that the ultimate responsibility for these deaths lies with government policy, which has deliberately shut down safe and legal routes to the UK.”

[Image credit: Hollie Adams/PA]

Written by
Alexandra Jarvis
Join the discussion