Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an emergency meeting of the Cobra Committee after the deaths of migrants who tried to cross the English Channel.
Downing Street announced the move after French media reported that more than 20 people had died after their boat sank near Calais.
Cobra meetings – named for the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR) in which they were held – and are used to coordinate the government’s response to a national or regional crisis or to events abroad with a large impact on the UK.
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At least 27 migrants drowned while attempting to cross the English Channel in a rubber dinghy, a French mayor told reporters.
Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart told BFM TV that the death toll was 27.
Several others are believed to have been injured after their boat capsized off Calais this afternoon.
France’s Prime Minister said Wednesday’s shipwreck was a “tragedy” and his thoughts were with “victims of criminal smugglers taking advantage of their plight and injuries”.
Currently, asylum seekers cannot apply for asylum until they arrive in the UK.
The UK government website states: ‘You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it is unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be denied if you wait.
“To be eligible, you must have left your country and cannot return because of fear of persecution.
“To stay in the UK as a refugee, you don’t have to be able to live safely in any part of your own country because you fear persecution there.”