Two migrants found dead on northern French beach

Three migrants, who were attempting to cross the English Channel from France to Britain, drift in an inflatable canoe off the French coast, near Calais, last year. (AFP)
Updated 14 October 2019

Two migrants found dead on northern French beach

  • The body of the Iraqi Kurdish youth was discovered by a passerby on a beach in Le Touquet, about 70 kilometers (about 40 miles) south of the port of Calais
  • Over the past year, growing numbers of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia have taken to the treacherous waters of the Channel in small fishing boats or inflatable dinghies

LILLE, France: The bodies of two young Iraqis were found washed up on a beach in northern France Monday, a first in a region where migrants are taking to boats in growing numbers to try reach Britain.
On Monday morning, a passerby spotted the body of a 17-year-old Iraqi Kurdish youth on a beach in Le Touquet, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) south of the port of Calais, long a rallying point for migrants hoping to stow away on a truck or ferry to Britain.
A few hours later, another passerby spotted the body of a second Iraqi man, aged 22, on the same beach.
This is the first time that two migrants have been found dead on the same day on northern French shores.
The two men “probably came from the same boat,” which was found empty next to the body of the younger man, the region’s security department said.
Police found two oars inside the inflatable dinghy, and a canister of fuel and life vest nearby, security officials for the Pas-de-Calais region said.
A similar boat was found some 450 meters from the scene but it was not clear if the two were linked.
Over the past year, growing numbers of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia have taken to the treacherous waters of the Channel in small fishing boats or inflatable dinghies.
Rights groups have linked the crossings to a police crackdown in Calais, which has made it harder for migrants to set up camp or try climb aboard a passing truck.
On Monday, eight migrants were intercepted on a beach near Calais and taken to a shelter.
Maritime authorities in northern France counted 1,473 migrants who tried to reach Britain’s shores by sea between January and August this year, compared with 586 in all of 2018.
In August, two migrants were found dead in the Channel — an Iranian woman who drowned after falling out of a packed migrant boat and an Iraqi man who was found dead off the Belgian port of Zeebrugge after trying to swim to England.
The Iraqi migrant is believed to have set off from a beach in northern France, with currents dragging him into Belgian waters.


Campaigning for Sri Lanka presidential election ends

Updated 14 November 2019

Campaigning for Sri Lanka presidential election ends

COLOMBO: Campaigning for Sri Lanka’s Nov. 16 presidential elections came to an end on Wednesday.

Competition is tight between the United National Front’s (UNF) candidate, Sajith Premadasa, and former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.

Rajapaksa’s final rally took place in the town of Homagama on Wednesday evening, while Premadasa concluded his campaign in Colombo.

Thus far, 35 candidates have submitted their nominations, while two — Milroy Fernando and Dr. I.M. Illyas — have openly urged supporters to vote for Premadasa.

In comments to the media on Wednesday, Mahinda Deshapriya, chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, said all candidates have been requested to attend a special meeting on Thursday to be briefed about the electoral process, including the counting of votes and the announcement of results.

The commission urged the candidates not to partake in any promotional activities on social media.

It has received 3,729 complaints pertaining to vandalism and violation of laws, leading up to the elections, with 27 cases of violence reported. Additionally, 3,596 election law violations were reported.

To address these concerns, the commission is setting up complaints offices at the Elections Secretariat in Rajagiriya and all other district offices.

Ali Sabry, chief legal adviser to Gotabaya, told Arab News that a proven track record will propel Gotabaya to victory.

Sabry added that Gotabaya is taking credit for eliminating terrorism in Sri Lanka. Industry and Commerce Minister Rishath Bathiudeen, who was involved in Premadasa’s political campaign, told Arab News that he is hopeful about his candidate’s chances.

Bathiudeen, who is the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress, said Premadasa would garner 95 percent of the Muslim vote and a majority of Tamil votes.

Azath Salley, leader of the National Unity Alliance, said: “The majority of the Tamil and Muslim communities are with … Premadasa.”

Meanwhile, the chair of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, N. M. Amin, said this is the first time that incidents of election violence are few and far between.

Meanwhile, a group deployed by the Commonwealth to observe the presidential elections has called on stakeholders to demonstrate a commitment to a “peaceful, transparent, credible and inclusive” poll.

The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) was invited by the Election Commission of Sri Lanka to observe the poll.

The COG will receive briefings from relevant stakeholders including election management officials, representatives of political parties, civil society groups, the police, members of the international community, citizens and international observers.

In a statement, COG Chair Prosper Bani said: “As independent observers, we will remain objective and impartial in discharging our duties. The Group’s assessment will be its own and not that of any Commonwealth member country. We hope that our group’s presence will support the strengthening of democracy in Sri Lanka.”