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Johnson wants France to “take back” migrants




Boris Johnson urged French President Emmanuel Macron to accept the return of migrants crossing the Channel to England.

The British Prime Minister said: “An agreement with France to take back migrants crossing the Channel by this dangerous route would have an immediate and significant impact”.

In a letter to Mr. Macron, he presented a five-point plan to deal with the migrant crisis following the deaths of 27 people in the English Channel when their boat sank yesterday.

It comes after President Macron said he was calling for “further help” from the UK today, as authorities revealed pregnant women and children were among those who died.

Mr Johnson said the plan, which includes joint patrols to prevent boats from leaving France as well as the bilateral return agreement, would “have an immediate and significant impact” on crossings.

He also suggested that the deal would be in France’s best interests by breaking the business model of criminal gangs that direct people trafficking from Normandy.

The five points of the British Prime Minister’s plan, which he announced on Twitter, are:

  • Joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches.
  • Deploy more advanced technology, such as sensors and radars.
  • Reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters and airborne surveillance.
  • Deepen the work of our Joint Intelligence Unit, with better real-time intelligence sharing to increase arrests and prosecutions on both sides of the Channel.
  • Immediate work on a bilateral return agreement with France, alongside talks to establish a return agreement between the UK and the EU.

Johnson said: “If those who reach this country were promptly returned, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be greatly reduced.

“It would be the biggest step we can take together to reduce the attractiveness of northern France and break the business model of criminal gangs.

“I am confident that by taking these steps and building on our existing cooperation, we can fight illegal migration and prevent more families from suffering the devastating loss we saw yesterday.”

Earlier, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the drownings were a “appalling shock” and called the crossings “absolutely unnecessary” after renewing an offer to send British officers to join patrolling French beaches during a call with French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

The UK government subsequently confirmed Ms Patel would meet with Mr Darmanin over the weekend to discuss the response to the crisis, while Home Office officials and law enforcement officials met. will travel to Paris tomorrow “to intensify joint cooperation and intelligence sharing.”

But the scale of the problem was further illustrated by new figures from the UK Home Office showing that asylum claims there reached their highest level in nearly 20 years, fueled by skyrocketing crossings. migrants from the Channel and an increase in the number following the coronavirus pandemic.

As French politicians blamed British authorities for failing to address the issue, two more small boats carrying desperate individuals were said to have arrived on British shores.

A group wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen curled up aboard an RNLI lifeboat before disembarking in Dover this morning. Strong winds interrupted crossings later in the day.

The French prosecutor’s office investigating the incident said the dead included 17 men, seven women and two boys and one girl who are believed to be teenagers.

French authorities arrested five suspected human traffickers in connection with the incident. Magistrates are investigating potential charges of homicide, unintentional injury, aiding illegal migration and criminal conspiracy.

Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, Mr Johnson said it was clear that French operations to prevent the departure of migrant boats “have not been sufficient” despite 54 million British pounds (64 million euros) of British support, adding that human traffickers are “literally getting away with murder”.

Read more:
Migrant deaths must be a ‘turning point’ – charity

More people try to cross, in the aftermath of the Channel deaths

However, Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said it was the British who were to blame and called on Mr Johnson to “take responsibility”.

“The British government is to blame. I think Boris Johnson has, for a year and a half, chosen cynically to blame France,” she said, according to French media.

Franck Dhersin, vice president of transport for the northern Hauts-de-France region, said the “mafia bosses” at the top of the trafficking networks live in the UK and must be stopped.

President Emmanuel Macron said France was only a transit country for many migrants and that more European cooperation was needed to fight illegal immigration.

“I will say (…) very clearly that our security forces are mobilized day and night”, declared Mr. Macron during a visit to the Croatian capital Zagreb, promising a “maximum mobilization” of the French forces, with reservists and drones surveying the coast.

“But above all, we need to seriously strengthen cooperation … with Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the European Commission.”

The number of migrants crossing the Channel has risen to 25,776 so far in 2021, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019, according to the BBC, citing government data.

Before yesterday’s disaster, 14 people drowned this year trying to reach Britain, a French official said.

In 2020, seven people died and two were missing, while in 2019, four died.




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