The RNLI has revealed volunteers working to save lives have faced heckling for putting their lives at risk to help migrants in trouble.
The boss of the charity did not say exactly what kind of abuse they had faced, but said those targeting lifeboat crews needed to think more.
Chief executive Mark Dowie said: ”Just remember that the people crossing The Channel are children, women, men, young and old, just like you.
‘Our crews should not have to put up with some of the abuse they have received.
‘We have seen lifejackets made out of lemonade bottles strung together, we have seen women, children, young men, old men, with no lifejackets, in the middle of nowhere with ships going past just hundreds of yards away. It’s a very, very frightening environment for those people.
‘This is humanitarian work, this is people doing the right thing.’
His comments were made as increasing numbers of migrants make the perilous journey to get to the UK.
Driving the point home, the RNLI has just released footage showing the rescue of 12 people – one of them a baby – in November 2019.
Most of them are not wearing life jackets and appear to be in jeans, trainers and coats.
Some of those rescued appear distressed and barely able to stand, with several wearing sopping wet clothes as they clamber on board the RNLI rescue vessel.
Once pulled to safety, the lifeboat volunteers can be heard trying to reassure the migrants and treating them for sickness and exhaustion.
Speaking about their experiences, one RNLI volunteer said: ‘The first job I went to that involved a Channel crossing, we rescued this little girl who was five years old and about the same size as my daughter.
‘And she was very scared and obviously exhausted, very cold, hungry.
‘She was wearing the same lifejacket that my daughter wears when we go sailing together and I now can’t look at my daughter in her lifejacket without thinking of this little girl, and being reminded every time we go to play with our boat for fun, that another family just like ours very nearly lost their lives trying to make it to England.’
Mr Dowie added: ‘These are men, women and children who are crossing some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world in vessels that are often totally usuited to the journey, coming across in great danger.
‘The humanitarian side of this has not really been told properly.’
Referring to the video, he continued: ‘We wanted to tell this now, our crews are becoming busier and busier with this work.
‘It’s important that what they see and what they do is properly appreciated.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said Border Force could be allowed to turn migrants away at sea as part of an overhaul of the asylum system.
The move came as it was confirmed earlier this month that more migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year than in all of 2020.
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