IT is an image I will never forget. The lifeless body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee, washed up in his tiny red T-shirt on a Turkish shore.

In September 2015, he along with his family were trying to get to the Greek island of Kos after fleeing the evil that was Islamic State. But he never made it.

This week, 27 people never made it. The tragedy in the English Channel had a depressing inevitability about it given the thousands of people who are prepared to get in overcrowded inflatable boats and make the perilous journey from the continent to the UK.

So far this year more than 25,700 people have crossed the Channel in dinghies; three times the total for the whole of 2020.

Yesterday, Home Office figures showed that more than 37,500 asylum claims were made in the UK in the year to September; the highest number for nearly 20 years.

Sadly, it seems clear this week’s tragedy won’t be the last time men, women and children, seeking the hope of better lives, lose them in the choppy waters between northern France and the Kent coast.

So, it came as no surprise that less than 24 hours after the deaths of 27 people - 17 men, seven women, including one reportedly pregnant, and three children - 40 more got into two more small boats to risk the Channel crossing. They made it.

Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, described the loss of 27 lives as an “absolute tragedy” and blamed human trafficking gangs. “Criminals…who exploit the misery of others, of women and children - there were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat - for a few thousand euros they promise them ‘El Dorado in England.’”

Over the last 20 years, some 300 people have perished as they attempted to cross the Channel.

Dealing with the human trafficking crisis is not easy as it has many complicating factors. Sadly, it is not helped by the acrimonious post-Brexit atmosphere between Britain and France, engendered by rows over the Northern Ireland Protocol, fishing rights and the Aukus defence deal.

Following a Cobra meeting on Wednesday Boris Johnson said it was clear France’s efforts to stop the migrant boats leaving its shores “haven’t been enough” despite the UK’s £54 million of support. The PM insisted the people traffickers were “literally getting away with murder”.

Needless to say, the sentiments didn’t go down well across the water.

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In the Elysee Palace, Emmanuel Macron was not happy. He insisted France would not let the Channel become a "cemetery" and pointed out how since the start of 2021 some 1,552 smugglers had been arrested in northern France and 44 trafficking networks had been dismantled.

He made clear he expected “the British to co-operate fully and to refrain from using a tragic situation for political purposes”.

Just to add to the acrimonious Anglo-French atmosphere, Franck Dhersin, Vice-president of transport for the northern Hauts-de-France region, said the heads of the trafficking gangs, the “mafia chiefs live in London…peacefully, in beautiful villas. They earn hundreds of millions of euros every year and they reinvest that money in the City”.

The blame game doesn’t help anyone, not least those being trafficked by unscrupulous individuals, who, wherever they are living, need to be stopped.

Yesterday in a Commons statement, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, told MPs there was “no silver bullet” and that all options were being considered.

Indeed, the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, denounced by campaigners as “extreme and nasty,” but defended by ministers as “firm but fair,” is a bid to deter migrants from Britain’s pull factor. It would criminalise anyone who knowingly arrives in Britain without permission and introduce longer maximum sentences for those entering the UK without a legal reason.

It seems clear a combination of policies is needed to avoid people putting themselves in danger for the want of a better life.

Offshore processing of asylum claims, possibly perhaps at overseas embassies, seems an obvious move that could help prevent people making long and dangerous journeys.

Using our intelligence and security agencies in league with those of other countries is another basic approach that could and should help identify the people traffickers, who, we’re told, are making up to £3,000 for every individual they facilitate.

Patel, in a phone-call to Darmanin yesterday, again appealed for Paris to agree to joint patrols and begin talks over a returns agreement, whereby migrants crossing the Channel would be immediately sent back to northern France.

Earlier, Kevin Foster, the Immigration Minister, caused something of a stir at Westminster after he appeared not to rule out the so-called “pushback” option, where boats are turned back mid-Channel.

The Liberal Democrats denounced the idea as “disgraceful,” arguing the “cruel” practice “could cause yet more unnecessary deaths”.

In their phonecall Macron knocked back Johnson over joint police patrols along the French Channel coast. The French President is not keen on the idea; sovereignty and all that. Indeed, Pierre-Henri Dumont, the MP for Calais, branded the PM’s suggestion “crazy,” claiming it would “not change anything” along his country’s vast shoreline.

As the winter months and the prospect of worse weather approach, this is no time for pursuing a pointless cross-Channel blame game.

Our political leaders need to dispense with the posturing and bickering but co-operate, co-ordinate and up their game before any more lives are tragically lost.