LONDON: A Sudanese migrant who drowned while attempting to cross the English Channel in a dinghy using shovels for oars has been identified as Abdulfatah Hamdallah.
Hamdallah, 28, was initially identified as a 16-year-old youth by authorities, but documents found on his body gave his birth year as 1992, Boulogne-sur-Mer deputy public prosecutor Philippe Sabatier told Sky News.
The Sudanese man’s body was discovered on Sangatte beach on the northern French coast early on Wednesday after a friend he attempted the crossing with was found nearby with hypothermia.
Hamdallah’s asylum claim was rejected in France and he decided to risk the journey to the UK, media reports said.
Relatives told the Guardian newspaper that Hamdallah fled the war-affected Sudanese areas of Darfur and Nuba Mountains in 2014. He worked as a car washer in Libya with his brother before reaching France via Italy.
In a phone call from Calais, Hamdallah told a cousin that he might never see him again, according to the newspaper.
In June, Hamdallah also posted a message in Arabic on Facebook, saying: “On the palm of fate we walk, and do not know what is written.”
On Thursday, the UK was criticized by French National Assembly member Pierre-Henri Dumont, who said its refusal to allow asylum claims to be made outside the country had led to the tragedy.
He tweeted: “How many more tragedies does it need for the British to find an ounce of humanity?
“The inability to claim asylum in Britain without being physically present in the country causes these tragedies,” he added.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the incident was an “upsetting and tragic loss of a young life,” and a “brutal reminder” of the problem of people smuggling.
French authorities confirmed they intercepted 41 people trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday, including a woman and three children, while UK Border Force vessels picked up 50 more people on small boats and took them to Dover for processing.