UK, France sign new deal to stop illegal migration across Channel

29 Novembre, 2020, 16:53 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Kuwaiti migrants sit in a dinghy as they illegally cross the English Channel from France to Britain on Sept 11 2020

The increase in police operations is backed by a French pledge to disperse more migrants from the north of France to accommodation centres inland where they could apply for asylum in France or other European Union countries.

However, the UK Home Office refused to say how many more officers would be deployed.

The announcement was criticised by one charity official as an "extraordinary mark of failure".

Meanwhile, Amnesty International UK said it was "profoundly disappointing".

Under the agreement, gendarme patrols will double from December 1 supplemented by extra surveillance technology - including drones, radar equipment, optronic binoculars and fixed cameras - to help search the coastline quicker and deploy more police in the right place at the right time.

The UK and France have also agreed on steps to provide appropriate accommodation for migrants in France, so they do not fall prey to criminal gangs.

It builds on measures previously agreed which the Home Office said had seen the proportion of crossings intercepted and stopped rise from 41% past year to 60% in recent weeks.

"The actions we have agreed goes further, doubling the number of officers on the ground in France, increasing surveillance and introducing new cutting-edge technology, representing a further step forward in our mission to make channel crossings completely unviable".

She told British media that French authorities had stopped 5,000 migrants from travelling to the United Kingdom so far this year. This includes "more police patrols on French beaches and enhanced intelligence sharing between our security and law enforcement agencies".

There have been a number of deals between Britain and France over the past couple of years to try to bring a halt to these crossings.

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She added that the cost charged by traffickers has gone down so "people are putting their lives at risk".

It is part of further measures Priti Patel agreed in a meeting with her French counterpart on Saturday.

The UK and France plan to continue a close dialogue to reduce migratory pressures at the shared border during the next year, Patel said. The total sentencing for small boats related convictions is over 26 years.

This is despite the Ms Patel's vow a year ago to make such journeys an "infrequent phenomenon".

A recent report chronicled almost 300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999.

Written by Mael Galisson, from Gisti, a legal service for asylum seekers in France, it described the evolution of border security in and around the Dover Strait as a "history of death". The organisation's director, Bella Sankey, said there was an urgent need to create safe and legal routes for migration instead.

Shadow UK home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: "An effective agreement with the French authorities would be welcome, but the Conservatives have regularly announced progress and not delivered".

"Women, men and children make risky journeys across the Channel because there are no safe options provided for them - to either reunite with family in this country, or access an effective asylum system, to which they are entitled".

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: "This package of surveillance, drones and radar sounds like the government is preparing for a military enemy".

"These are ordinary people - from engineers to farmers and their families - they are not criminals and they do not want to make this terrifying journey".

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