Migrants Die at Sea

The kind of inflatable boat used to make the crossing
The kind of inflatable boat used to make the crossing (source)

Twenty-seven migrants died in the ocean between France and England this week. The people, from war-damaged countries to the east and south of Europe, were going to enter the United Kingdom illegally and claim asylum. The number of people claiming asylum in the UK this year (25700) is already much higher than that of last year (8469).

The migrants drowned when their inflatable boat failed. Such boats are often overcrowded and unsuitable for the rough waters between Europe and Britain. Two migrants suffering from hypothermia were rescued from the ocean.

The governments of France and Britain condemned gangs of people smugglers for causing the tragedy. Smugglers organize crossings and charge desperate refugees large amounts of money. France arrested four people that they believe are connected to the failed crossing.

The two countries promised to work together better to prevent future deaths. In the past, Britain has blamed France for not stopping the refugees while they are in France, and France has blamed Britain for not doing more to stop illegal refugees from working in Britain. Both countries agree they need to do more.

Sources: bbc.com, ft.com, reuters.com, apnews.com

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Migrant (n) - a person that goes to another place to find work or a better life
  • Asylum (n) - protection given to people that have left their country because they were in danger
  • Drown (v) - to die due to being unable to breathe in water
  • Inflatable (adj) - able to be filled with air
  • Hypothermia (n) - the condition of a person’s body temperature being too low
  • Condemn (v) - to say strongly that something is wrong
  • Smuggler (n) - a person that moves things or people secretly and illegally
  • Desperate (adj) - without much hope and willing to do almost anything to get what is needed
  • Refugee (n) - a person that left their home because of war, famine, political persecution, natural disaster, etc.
  • Blame (v) - to say something or someone is responsible for something bad


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Have you ever considered moving to another country? Why or why not? Where would you go?
  2. Does your country encourage the immigration of people from other countries? Why or why not?
  3. Does your country accept many refugees? Should each country accept a certain number of refugees? Why or why not?
  4. Where are most of the refugees in the world coming from? Which countries are they usually going to?
  5. Can you swim? When did you learn? If you can’t swim, would you like to learn?
  6. Have you been on a boat in the ocean? Did you feel safe? What could go wrong in that situation?
  7. If there was a war or a natural disaster in your region, where could you go to be safe?
  8. Can you understand why some people travel a long way in search of a better life?
  9. Is it okay for a country to not let a person enter?
  10. What should countries like Britain and France do to prevent future tragedies?