Dutch police: Drowned man was Syrian refugee swimming Channel

15th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

A mysterious body found on a Dutch island beach last year has been identified as a Syrian refugee who drowned in a fatal attempt to swim the Channel, Dutch police said Monday.

The 22-year-old man's identity was established after matching DNA with his parents' after his body, dressed in a wetsuit, washed up on the northern Dutch island of Texel in October.

"It's believed that the refugee tried to swim across the Channel from Calais. The most probable cause of death is drowning," police said in a statement.

They did not release the victim's name.

The mysterious discovery baffled Dutch police who buried the man anonymously 10 days after he was found in De Koog, on the western side of the island.

Police traced the wetsuit to a shop in Calais in northern France, which was sold together with a similar second suit on October 7 last year.

In February, police received a report from Norway that a second body had been found on the beach in Farsund in the south of the Scandinavian country.

This body was dressed in the second suit bought in Calais.

An investigation by a Norwegian journalist eventually traced an uncle in England of the man washed up in Texel and the victim's DNA matched samples then taken from his parents.

The victim's uncle said he received a phone call on October 7 shortly before the man disappeared.

The victim told him: "I'm on the beach in Calais and I can see England. Tomorrow I'm going to try to get there."

There were 30,000 recorded attempts -- mainly by refugees attempting to conceal themselves in trucks -- to cross the Channel in the 10 months to January.

The rate of around 100 a day ia almost double the number for the previous year, official data showed.

The Guardian newspaper reported that 15 migrants died attempting to make the cross-Channel journey last year.

Around 2,500 migrants, mostly from Sudan, Eritrea and Syria, live in a makeshift tent village in Calais known as "the jungle".

Earlier this month the European Commission asked member states to admit 20,000 Syrian refugees from outside Europe and process another 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea landing in Italy and Greece.

© 2015 AFP

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