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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Migrants in the English Channel. A dispute between Great Britain and France

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French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called on Saturday for the signing of a “treaty on migration issues” between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The minister also called on the British to “keep their promise” to finance the fight against the migration movement. The British Interior Ministry said in turn that it would raise the subject of the Sky News recording in talks with the French government, which shows that French policemen are not trying to stop illegal immigrants trying to cross the English Channel.

At the end of July, the United Kingdom pledged to pay France 62.7 million euros in 2021-2022 to support French law enforcement agencies on the coast. However, according to the British press, Interior Minister Priti Patel threatened in early September that she would not pay the amount due to the record influx of migrants crossing the English Channel illegally. Arrests of illegal migrants have increased in the last three months, according to the French Ministry of the Interior.

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The issue of the passage of migrants across the English Channel is a regular source of tensions between London and Paris.

“We have to negotiate a treaty”

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– France defends the border – underlined French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who on Saturday called on the British government to keep its promise to financially support the fight against migration on the French coasts and called for the signing of a treaty on this matter between London and the EU.

“ We need to negotiate a treaty because Michel Barnier did not do it when he negotiated Brexit, which binds us on migration issues, ” said Darman on a trip to Loon-Plage in the north of the country, where migrants try to cross the English Channel on their way to Britain every day. – I have informed the British government about our expectations and we are waiting for its response to start talks – added the head of the Ministry of the Interior, promising that France would implement this project when it held the six-month presidency of the European Union from January.

Britain and France face illegal immigration through the English ChannelShutterstock

France is “an ally of Great Britain” but “is not its vassal,” said the Darman. – We are here to hold the border, that’s true. But we are in favor of doing it together with our British friends, he added.

Darmanin also confirmed that he had received an assurance from the director of the European Border Protection Agency, Frontex, that the Agency would help in monitoring the area, inter alia, with the participation of the air force.

London wants an explanation from France

The British Home Office said on Saturday that it would raise the Sky News recording in talks with the French government, which shows that French policemen are doing nothing to stop illegal immigrants trying to cross the English Channel.

Sky News reporters witnessed how, in broad daylight, near the small town of Ambleteuse near Calais, in front of the French police, several dozen illegal immigrants carried large pontoons and boats across the beach, which they then launched into the English Channel and boarded them without any obstacles . As reported, the police did not intervene, although it took eight minutes from the moment of disembarking with the dinghy to the beach to launching it into the water, and when asked why they did not take action, one of the officers replied that there were eight of them, and illegal immigrants – 80 Sky News reporters point out that the policemen were armed.

British patrol in the English Channel Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0 | Ross

On Saturday, a group whose French police allowed them to take a pontoon out into the English Channel, after a nine-hour crossing to the English coast of Kent, was taken over by the RNLI boats, a British water rescue NGO. According to the British media, among at least 40 people who were in this group, there were e.g. Iraqi girl Ayyan, just 16 days old, wrapped only in a blanket.

Sky News reporters asked the visitors if the French police at any point tried to stop them from undertaking the dangerous crossing, and one of the immigrants, who spoke a little English, replied, “No, they didn’t say anything.”

Record influx of migrants

Since the beginning of this year, more than 17,000 people have passed through the English Channel to Great Britain – mostly on pontoons and small unstable boats -. illegal immigrants, i.e. twice as many as last year, which was still a record year.

The British government has repeatedly accused the authorities in Paris of not taking sufficient action to apprehend illegal immigrants. The allegations concerned, inter alia, the fact that French patrol boats, seeing the boats with immigrants still in French waters, brought them to the sea border so that the responsibility for their fate had to be assumed by Great Britain.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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