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Sudanese man found dead on French beach after attempt to cross English Channel

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Migrants aboard a boat after being intercepted by French authorities, off the port of Dunkirk, northern France, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.
Migrants aboard a boat after being intercepted by French authorities, off the port of Dunkirk, northern France, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.   -   Copyright  Gendarmerie Maritime via AP
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A Sudanese man has died trying to cross the English Channel, French authorities revealed on Wednesday.

The man's body was found on Sangatte beach on Wednesday morning, France's minister for citizenship, Marlene Schiappa said.

"This unbearable tragedy moves us even more with [French interior minister] Gérald Darmanin against smugglers who take advantage of the distress of human beings," she added.

The minister's tweet put the man's age at 16 but authorities later identified him as 28-year-old Abdulfatah Hamdallah, according to local media.

Sangatte is immediately west of Calais, which has become a hub for migrants hoping to reach the UK. The Strait of Dover is the narrowest part of the English Channel, and Calais is the location of the French side of the Eurotunnel.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel described the boy's death as "an upsetting and tragic loss of young life".

"This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people," she added.

Crossing attempts by boats have been ramping up this year. Figures given to Euronews by France's Maritime Prefecture earlier this month estimated that 4,192 migrants had successfully reached or attempted to reach the UK by boat by July 31.

In 2019, 2,294 migrants had made or attempted to make the crossing.

The two countries set up a joint intelligence cell to tackle the issue last month. So far this year, 22 people smugglers have been jailed and a further 11 arrests were made during the last week of July.

But Britain is increasingly frustrated about the situation. Last month, Chris Philp, the minister for immigration compliance and the courts, described the number of crossings as "unacceptably high" and argued, "the French have to take tougher action."

"We need stronger enforcement measures, including interceptions at sea and direct return of boats," he went on.

A proposal to deploy military vessels to intercept migrant dinghies in the Channel was decried by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) over fears it may result in fatal incidents.

"Although increasing numbers of people have been crossing the Channel by boat this summer, the numbers remain low and manageable. People forced by wars and persecution to flee their homes and people on the move frequently embark on risky journeys in many parts of the world," the UN agency said in a statement.

"Saving lives should be the first priority," it added.

Britain says the Dublin Regulation — which determines which European Union country is responsible for examining an asylum application and sets out conditions for returns — is not "fit for purpose" and is "abused by both migrants and activists lawyers."

London believes that Brexit will allow the country to negotiate its own returns agreement.