RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie has spoken out after lifeguards suffered vile abuse for saving migrants making the perilous journey across the Channel. RNLI has also released footage of a “typical” mid-Channel rescue in the hope of showing how vital the role of RNLI crews are, and how “totally unacceptable” the insults aimed at them are.
Mr Dowie told the Mirror: “Our purpose is to save lives at sea, it has been the same since 1824. We have always gone to rescue people regardless of who they are, where they have come from, or why they are there.”
The harrowing footage shows volunteers helping terrified migrants, including sobbing women, a young child and a baby, from a tiny dinghy in freezing waters. Some of the rescued are in shock, can’t stand and are drifting in and out of consciousness.
One volunteer revealed: “We have had some vile abuse thrown at us. We’ve been accused of all sorts of things. I’ve personally had personal phone calls telling me what they think of me by bringing migrants in.”
One volunteer recalled finding a group of 34 people and children in a sinking dinghy who had been in freezing waters for 30 hours. They said: “I think what hits you hardest is when you see the children in such a distressed state.
“The children were frozen, two of them couldn’t walk because they’d got cramp in their legs, they were so cold. We had the women come on board with a couple of the males and they just collapsed and laid flat out, just crying on the deck.”
Mr Dowie said rescuing people likely to lose their lives in the sea is “about us doing the right thing as a society.
“These islands have a reputation for doing the right thing and we should all be very proud of this humanitarian work.”
Additional reporting by Matt Roper.