UK and France sign agreement to curb migrant crossings in the Channel

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Incidents crossing the migrant channel

Britain and France have signed a new agreement aimed at reducing the number of migrants crossing the Channel on board small boats.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin have said they want to make the route taken by more than 8,000 people this year unviable.

They agreed to double the number of French police officers patrolling 150 km of coastline targeted by smuggling networks.

However, the Home Office did not specify how many additional agents would be deployed.

Priti Patel and Dover (Gareth Fuller / PA)

The ad was criticized by a charity as an “extraordinary mark of failure” akin to “the reorganization of the deckchairs on the Titanic”.

Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin also agreed on an improved set of surveillance technologies, with drones, radar equipment, cameras and optronic binoculars.

It is hoped that the equipment will help the French deploy officers to the right places to detect migrants and stop them before they start their journey.

The agreement also includes measures to help migrants find accommodation in France and measures to strengthen border security at ports in the north and west of the country.

It builds on previously agreed measures which the Interior Ministry said saw the proportion of intercepted and stopped crossings drop from 41% last year to 60% in recent weeks.

Migrants POLICY
(PA graphics)

Despite the deteriorating weather conditions, the British Border Force continued to deal with migrants making the dangerous journey from northern France.

The number of crossings aboard small boats has exploded this year, with more than 8,000 reaching the United Kingdom – up from 1,835 in 2019, according to data analyzed by the PA news agency.

This despite the wish of the Minister of the Interior last year to make these trips a “rare phenomenon”.

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

Written by Mael Galisson, of Gisti, a legal service for asylum seekers in France, it described the evolution of border security in and around the Strait of Dover as a “story of death”.

He claimed that responses to the migrant crisis have become increasingly militarized, forcing people to resort to more dangerous routes.

Bella Sankey, director of the humanitarian charity Detention Action, said: “It is an extraordinary mark of failure that the Home Secretary announces with such fanfare that she is reorganizing the deckchairs on the Titanic.

“No amount of massages on the numbers obscures his refusal to make the sensible decision to create a safe and legal route to the UK from northern France, thus avoiding level crossings and child deaths.

“Instead, it is throwing taxpayer dollars for the benefit of many of the same measures that have no chance of having a significant impact on this dangerous situation.

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