France and Italy agree to unify border forces to fight human trafficking

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France and Italy have agreed to work even more closely along their shared border to combat the smuggling networks operating there.The guards and officials of both countries will operate under one command to make them more effective. The location of the command headquarters has not yet been announced.

A major – and often fatal – route for many refugees and economic migrants is the crossing of the Mediterranean by usually overcrowded and poorly navigable boats from North Africa and along the Italian coast.

Many then aim to move to more prosperous northern European countries, particularly Germany and the United Kingdom.

Libya is normally the starting point for what is a terrifying journey. However, some were quickly intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and forcibly returned.

Doctors Without Borders medical aid agency tweeted Thursday that “three people were shot dead and two seriously injured” after being returned to the Libyan coastal town of Khoms.

France wants a “common position” with Italy before the summit of EU interior ministers in Brussels in October on a new “migration pact” to be proposed by the Commission in September, said the French minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin.

He also wants the support of Spain and Germany, which Darmanin will visit in August.

Joint patrols already exist between the Italian and French border police forces of the two countries, but the integrated patrols will bring together for the first time, within a specific structure, the agents of the two countries under the same command.

The legal framework to establish it is however still under discussion.

“This is an extremely important point in the fight against this border crossing of illegal immigrant populations, from the region of Ventimiglia on the Italian side to the region of Menton on the French side,” said Darmanin after talks with his Italian counterpart, Luciana Lamorgese. Friday.

Paris and Rome also decided that the Malta agreement “can be integrated into EU law, which is the Italian request and which we support, but also be extended to all EU countries”, according to the minister.

Germany, France, Italy and Malta agreed in September on a temporary, voluntary mechanism for the distribution of migrants rescued at sea, but only a few countries such as Portugal, Luxembourg and the Ireland had joined the initiative.

The mechanism has been suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The Malta agreements have been suspended but there have been several ships that have arrived on Italian soil and now all European countries must do what France and Germany have done, which is to be firm outside European borders, ”said Darmanin.

“At the same time, we must be able to distribute asylum seekers upon their arrival in Italy,” he added.

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