Speaking for Ourselves

RNLI defends Channel rescues

RNLI defends Channel rescues


 Migrant Voice - RNLI defends Channel rescues

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has expressed pride in its work and reaffirmed its principle duty of rescuing anyone in trouble at sea, after receiving criticism for saving migrants in distress as they attempt to cross the Channel. 

Mark Dowie, Chief Executive of the RNLI, said this morning (28 July) : “I could not be prouder of our amazing volunteer lifeboat crews, who launch to the aid of anyone who is in trouble in or around the water and needs our help.”

Migrant Voice stands with the RNLI and supports its decision to speak out after receiving criticism. Migrants rescued by RNLI volunteers are often in overcrowded inflatable boats, suffering from sickness or dehydration, and are frequently in great distress.

Founded in 1824, the RNLI exists to save lives at sea. Despite being a well-respected British charity, it has recently received some criticism for carrying out its vital work, including from members of the public, the press, and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who described the RNLI as a “taxi service for illegal immigration”.

“We do not judge those we rescue – where we believe there is a risk to life at sea, we will always launch in response to a call from HM Coastguard,” said Dowie. 

“We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress.”

Migrant Voice is proud to support and to stand with the RNLI and its mission to save anyone who needs assistance at sea.

 “A number of our members have been rescued by the RNLI while crossing the Channel,” said Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan. “We know how essential and life-saving the RNLI’s work is.

“Migrants will be forced to make these dangerous journeys in the absence of safe and legal routes.”

The RNLI has also released testimonies from its volunteer rescuers, who have described the dire situations in which they have found migrants in the Channel in need of rescue. 

“Most are desperate, the boats are overcrowded, women and children are often crying, some are seasick and not well,” said one volunteer.

Another volunteer said the current situation is a tragedy waiting to happen.

“If the worst happens and a boat overturns with 30-40 people on with children, we will struggle to save them all,” said the volunteer.

“The image and thought of that happening is enough to make your blood run cold. We need to find and help these people, sod the politics. No-one deserves to drown because of where they come from.”


Testimonies from Migrant Voice members

“Many of my friends lost their lives seeking safety across dangerous seas. People who rescue us at sea don't know how amazing they are, we thank you and please don't give up.” 

“Before my wife got into the boat she told me she loves me and if she couldn't make it to the other side wanted me know that she loves me a lot.” - tragically his wife drowned. 

Image credit: Mike Carter from Pixabay 

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Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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