LONDON (Bywire News) - An astonishing video created by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) explaining exactly why they rescue asylum seekers in distress in the English Channel has gone viral on Twitter - and it shows precisely why Priti Patel and the Conservative Party should be truly ashamed of themselves.
Earlier this month, the government published the Nationality and Borders bill - a piece of legislation which aims to make it illegal for asylum seekers to enter the UK without permission.
Patel claims that, rather than attempting to cross the Channel themselves, asylum seekers should simply use 'safe and legal routes' in order to claim in asylum in the UK.
Despite Patel's advice, there is currently no safe and legal route for unrecognised refugees to claim asylum in the UK - a fact that Clare Mosely of the Care4Calais charity eloquently summed up, stating:
"If this Government really wanted to combat people smugglers, it would create a safe way for refugees to claim UK asylum without risking their lives in small boats. If this existed, people smugglers would be put out of business overnight."
Keep Bywire News Online. We're funded by Readers!
However, in addition to criminalising asylum seekers themselves, a clause in the Tory bill also aims to make it illegal for anyone to assist asylum seekers in their journey to the UK - with maximum jail sentences of 14 years for those found guilty.
The government claims that the clause is to deter people smugglers - but the RNLI have raised concerns that it could put a halt to their life-saving work, and that crew members could be prosecuted simply for rescuing asylum seekers in distress in the English Channel.
Shortly before publication of the bill in Parliament, the former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage published a widely-shared tweet claiming that the RNLI had become a "taxi service for illegal immigration" - alongside a picture of an RNLI boat with asylum seekers aboard:
This is the Ramsgate lifeboat today, rammed full.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 4, 2021
Sadly the wonderful RNLI in Kent has become a taxi service for illegal immigration, to the dismay of all involved.
What a state of affairs. pic.twitter.com/udqBi7ZVlW
In addition, an article published in the Daily Express written by LBC host Nick Ferrari made similar claims about the charity - leading to further criticism of the RNLI from members of the public.
However, in response, the RNLI remained defiant - issuing a widely-shared statement, which read:
"After a national newspaper article was published over the weekend, we’ve faced a huge volume of comments on social media about our lifesaving work in the Channel.
"We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the humanitarian work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress.
"HM Coastguard and the Irish Coast Guard can request any of our lifeboats to launch to an incident. Our lifeboats operate under international maritime law, which states we are permitted and indeed obligated to enter the waters of other territories for search and rescue purposes.
"Where we believe there is a risk to life at sea, we will always launch. We are not border control and, once a rescue is complete, we hand over responsibility for casualties to UK Border Force and/or the police."
Our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one. Our lifesavers are compelled to help those in need without judgement of how they came to be in the water. They have done so since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos. pic.twitter.com/iZY5Y8fofp— RNLI (@RNLI) July 5, 2021
And now, the charity have gone a step further, publishing a video so people can see for themselves exactly why they do what they do.
You can watch the RNLI's incredible video below:
We're proud of the lifesaving work our volunteers do in the Channel – we make no apology for it. Those we rescue are vulnerable people in danger & distress. Each of them is someone’s father, mother, son or daughter - every life is precious. This is why we launch: pic.twitter.com/lORd9NRpdP— RNLI (@RNLI) July 28, 2021
The video has, unsurprisingly, received an overwhelmingly positive reaction on social media, gaining over 8,000 retweets and 23,000 likes at the time of publishing:
This is where the hate whipped-up by the likes of Nigel Farage, Priti Patel & the right-wing press has led us:@RNLI – a charity that saves men, women & children from death at sea – is being forced to justify their heroic work.— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) July 28, 2021
Shame on the bigots whose hate diminishes us all. https://t.co/yrmlD4Ks77
Hope you’re watching Priti Patel. You’re not fit to clean their boots. https://t.co/3R8DAU3nxZ— John Edwards (@JohnEdwards33) July 28, 2021
Thanks for all you do. Can’t believe people would abuse you for saving lives. Refugees deserve help and care and you should be proud you are doing your bit to help the most vulnerable— Katy (@WellBeingkaty) July 28, 2021
The RNLI should never have to justify why it is saving lives in the same way a doctor should never have to justify the Hippocratic Oath— Adam Smith (@adamndsmith) July 28, 2021
Thank you to all of you for what you do. I hate that your heroism has become politically controversial; as far as I am concerned, you deserve our heartfelt respect and support.— Tom Bacon (@TomABacon) July 28, 2021
In the spirit of why you were founded. I think your response has been fantastic. Your organisation is part of what is good about society and your care for those in need is fantastic. I will certainly be ordering RNLI products in the future. Thank you.— Garry Wilson (@gazzabwilson) July 28, 2021
Thank you for your work. The day we begin to pick and choose who's lives are worthy to be saved us the day mankind and humanity is doomed. Keep doing what you do and ignore those who would have you leave desperate people to the mercy of the sea..— The Honourable Sergeant Arthur Wilson (@SgtArthurWilson) July 28, 2021
You can donate to the RNLI here.
(Writing by Tom D. Rogers, editing by Jess Miller.)