British and French authorities struggled Thursday to combat the migration of small boats across the Channel after 27 migrants drowned off Dunkirk on Wednesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called on France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to make accelerated attempts to shut down people smuggling through Europe in the wake of the disaster, with British and French officials saying some migrants are arriving in France. Coast by land from the outside and cruise across the canal in a matter of hours.
The French authorities announced that they had arrested five people on suspicion of people smuggling, and aggravated manslaughter in connection with the trip.
Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, has called for a coordinated “European response” to the issue to disrupt the routes used by people smugglers.
Speaking to RTL radio on Thursday morning, he said France has detained 1,500 smugglers since the beginning of the year. “The smuggler we arrested last night, for example, had a German registered car and bought inflatable boats in Germany,” he said.
For a few thousand euros, Darmanin added, the traffickers were offering immigrants “El Dorado” in England.
He is due to discuss how best to reduce the numbers of the dangerous crossing with Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary, later on Thursday.
Kevin Foster, Britain’s immigration minister, told the BBC Today The program has been vital for Britain and France to work together to solve the problems that have led to more than 27,000 people crossing the canal in small boats this year.
He added that during last year’s talks on relations with the EU after Brexit, the UK offered to sign a bilateral agreement with France to return asylum seekers who had passed through safe countries before arriving in the UK but were rejected.
“We cannot force our partners to reach an agreement,” he said.
French officials said the 27 who died on Wednesday were 17 men, seven women and three children. The two known survivors, who are recovering from a severe hypothermia, are an Iraqi and a Somali. The incident is considered the canal’s worst single tragedy since the migration of small boats became an important means of crossing from France to the United Kingdom in late 2018.
Jean Castix, Prime Minister of France, is meeting to discuss the migrant crisis through channels with the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Defense, Maritime Affairs, Transport, and Foreign and European Affairs. He was scheduled to hold a crisis meeting with officials on Thursday to discuss further steps that could be taken to resolve the crisis.
UK ministers are expected to pressure the French to agree to joint patrols of French shores to combat people smuggling.
“What we are keen to do is look at how we can support French law enforcement in addressing the situation in the Pas-de-Calais,” Foster told the BBC.
He pointed out that a British helicopter provided assistance over French waters in the search and rescue operation on Wednesday.
While such proposals have previously run counter to concerns about French sovereignty, Bruno Bonnell, a member of the French National Assembly for President Macron’s party, La République en Marche, said that Today He would support joint patrols.
Immigration figures released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics on Thursday showed that crossing through the channels has led to an increase in asylum claims. Between July and September, there were 15,104 asylum applications, up 60 percent from the same quarter of 2020. In the year to September, there were 37,562 asylum applications, up 18 percent from the year ending September 2020.
The ONS attributed the rise to the arrival of small boat migrants, nearly all of whom are seeking asylum, and the reopening of international travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Even with the increase, the number of asylum applications received by the UK remains much lower than other European countries. In the year to June, Germany received 113,625 applications and France received 87,180 applications.