Home Kent News Dover lifeboat heroes abused for saving drowning refugees

Dover lifeboat heroes abused for saving drowning refugees

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Original article from Kent Live

Britain's lifeboat chief has said rescuing people from drowning has nothing to do with politics.

Mark Dowie delivered a passionate appeal to people's humanity and has felt compelled to speak out.

Pictures and videos showing a real-life rescue have been released in a bit to combat abuse crews are suffering.

READ MORE: Drone pictures show dozens of refugee dinghies stacked up in Dover compound

Brave volunteers have been targeted for saving desperate refugees from the English Channel, as the Mirror reports.

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One volunteer told the Mirror: “We’ve had some vile abuse thrown at us.

"We’ve been accused of all sorts of things. I’ve personally had personal phone calls telling me what they think of me bringing refugees in.”

Mr Dowie, the RNLI’s chief executive, told the Mirror the “humanitarian side of this story needs to be told”.

KentLive uses the term people when referring to those who cross the Channel and arrive on our shores.

That's because, regardless of their status at the point of entry, those moving from one country to the other are human beings.

You will have seen them commonly referred to as migrants. This is not incorrect.

The UN Migration Agency defines a migrant as – any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, what the causes for the movement are, or what the length of the stay is.

KentLive also refers to people in these circumstances as refugees.

The UN definition of refugees is – people who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalised violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.

He said: “Our purpose is to save lives at sea, it’s been the same since 1824.

"We’ve always gone to rescue people regardless of who they are where they’ve come from or why they’re there .”

The charity released footage of a “typical” mid-Channel rescue, showing a crew helping up terrified refugees, including sobbing women, a young child and a baby, from a tiny dinghy in freezing waters.

The video shows RNLI volunteers taking care of the group of ten.

Some of those that have been rescued are in shock, unable to stand and are drifting in and out of consciousness.

Dramatic footage showed a real-life refugee rescue mission

All incidents of abuse aimed at the rescue team have been reported to the police.

Mr Dowie hopes that by releasing these images, people will see the vital role of his crews and how "totally unacceptable" insults aimed at them are.

He said: “There’s been shouting and name calling as they have gone out or come back, and some even doorstepped at their homes.

"It’s not acceptable and I’m very sad about that.

“But RNLI’s crews are resilient, they believe passionately in what they are doing and know it’s humanitarian work.”

Mr Dowie said rescuing people likely to lose their lives in the sea was “about us doing the right thing as a society”.

He said: “The stories I’ve heard about the condition men, women and children are found in are truly harrowing. They’re setting off before light, heading out in totally unsuitable craft, they often run out of fuel, they don’t have the right lifejackets or safety equipment.

“Lost in the middle of the English Channel. Terrifying. These islands have a reputation for doing the right thing and we should all be very proud of this humanitarian work.”

Mr Dowie has defended lifeboat crews for helping rescue migrants at sea

More people than ever are now trying to cross the Channel by boat following the recent spell of warm weather.

A record 430 refugees tried to cross the Channel in a single day last week, with 600 also intercepted over the weekend.

It was recently reported that France rejected a request to have British warships pick up refugees and take them back to shore.

The perilous journey, often made in small overcrowded dinghies across one of the busiest shipping lanes, can take days.

However, less than 1% of refugees have arrived in the UK by dinghies or similar small boats this year.

Figures suggest the vast majority are genuine refugees from war-torn countries or oppressive regimes.

The UK also has far fewer asylum seekers than other major European nations, half that of France and Spain.

Mr Dowie said the overwhelming response from migrants to the RNLI crews, called out by the Coastguard, has been immense gratitude.

He said: “Very often they are terrified out of their wits, they absolutely think they are going to die. It might be their first time in a boat.”

One remembered finding a group of 34 people in a sinking dinghy in freezing waters at sea for 30 hours.

“The daytime temperature when we got to them was -2C. The dinghy was awash and they were freezing.

“I think what hits you hardest is when you see the children in such a distressed state.

"The children were frozen, two of them couldn’t walk because they’d got cramp in their legs, they were so cold.

"We had the women come on board with a couple of the males and they just collapsed and laid flat out, just crying on the deck.”

Mr Dowie said many RNLI staff and volunteers have been deeply affected by what they witness. They believe passionately in what they are doing.

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Original Article