Channel Crossings: Priti Patel was warned that government policies were pushing migrants on dangerous journeys nine months ago


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The government was warned nine months ago that its own policies “push migrants to take more dangerous routes” across the Channel in an official report by MPs, may be revealed amid an increase in crossings of boats.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee when she heard testimony that the number of migrants trying to reach the UK by sea would increase and that current measures were not working not.

The resulting report called on the government to increase legal avenues for asylum seekers, improve “dire” conditions in French camps and address the root causes of migration.

Released in November, it warned that spending tens of millions of pounds on security around major French ports had caused an increase in the number of attempts to cross the Channel on board small boats.

“A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will push migrants to take more dangerous routes and push them into the hands of criminal groups,” the report said.

“In the absence of strong and accessible legal avenues to seek asylum in the UK, those who do have little choice but to take dangerous journeys by land and sea.”

On Monday, Ms Patel pledged to make the crossings “unsustainable” and the prime minister called the trips “very bad, stupid, dangerous and criminal”.

More than 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, including at least 600 in recent days.

Chris Bryant, Labor member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said The independent the influx “was not only predictable, but we predicted it”.

He said increased security at ferry ports and the Channel Tunnel had prompted more migrants to attempt to cross small boats, and the trend had worsened amid a drop in traffic. truck traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This government is dominated by people who are obsessed with what they think are the pull factors for migration to the UK,” said Bryant.

A group of migrants crossing the English Channel in a small boat heading for Dover, Kent, August 10 (PA)

“The pressure factors are just as important – war, famine, disease, social upheaval, these are the things that cause people to leave their homes and that’s why you need a holistic approach and sit down with other countries. ”

Bryant said the measures previously labeled “crackdown” had been “notoriously ineffective”.

Speaking on Monday, Boris Johnson said the problem was that “there are people who want to come from all over the world to this country because it is obviously a great place”.

The Prime Minister has been accused of using inflammatory language after calling migrant boat crossings “a very bad, stupid, dangerous and criminal thing”.

He said the government wanted to “look at the legal framework that means when people get here it’s very, very difficult to send them back.”

Downing Street said Brexit would allow the UK to craft a new framework for dealing with migrants outside of Dublin’s “inflexible and rigid” regulations.

The UK has already made hundreds of deportation requests under the law, which requires asylum seekers to seek asylum in the first safe country they arrive.

As more and more asylum seekers were taken ashore on Monday, Ms Patel traveled to Dover to see border forces operations to deal with what she called an “unacceptable number of illegal crossings from small boats ”.

“I am absolutely determined to make this incredibly dangerous road unsustainable,” she added.

Boris Johnson calls for legal change to ‘return’ more asylum seekers amid surge in migrant boats

The Defense Ministry has deployed a surveillance aircraft to the English Channel amid discussions over the potential use of warships, and a former Royal Navy has been appointed as a “Clandestine Channel Threat Commander”.

It comes as Chris Philp, Minister of the Interior, is preparing to meet the French authorities in Paris “to strengthen cooperation”.

British representatives stopped attending a key EU forum to discuss migration last year, and the Foreign Affairs Committee called on the government to “urgently resume” its presence at the table.

Last month, the UK and France launched a new intelligence-sharing unit to crack down on traffickers who facilitate migrant boat crossings.

Ms Patel and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin underlined their “common commitment to return the Channel boats to France, rather than allowing them to reach the UK”.

Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent over the past 10 years on bilateral deals, including the 2018 Sandhurst Treaty.

A ‘joint action plan’ has seen the UK pay £ 6million for increased security along the French coast, including beach patrols and drones.

Pierre-Henri Dumont, who represents Calais in the French National Assembly, told BBC Radio 4 Today program that the local authorities “were already trying to do everything we could”.

“If you have dozens of level crossings a day, it’s very difficult for us to stop,” he added.

“It only takes five minutes to have a small boat at sea full of migrants, with a 300 km coastline to watch.”

Mr Dumont said he believed the deployment of Royal Navy ships “wouldn’t change anything” and called the move a “political step”.

He warned that it would be dangerous to try to intimidate or forcibly displace migrant boats, and warned against entering French territorial waters without permission.

The Home Affairs Committee has launched a new investigation to examine the reasons for the increase in level crossings since 2018.

He said MEPs would examine the role of criminal gangs and “the UK and French authorities’ response to tackling illegal migration and supporting legal pathways to asylum”.

Minnie Rahman, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “Those who are forced to make dangerous journeys across the Channel do so because they simply have no other choice. No one would risk their life on a crowded dinghy unless their future depended on it.

“If the government were serious about combating trafficking and resolving this situation once and for all, it would open up safe and legal entry routes into the UK.”

Lisa Doyle, Advocacy Director of the Refugee Council, said: “Asking for asylum is not a crime, and it is legitimate that people have to cross borders to do so.”


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