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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Britain and France clashed over the tragedy of immigration across the Straits




Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron are working on Thursday to coordinate a coherent response to the deaths of 27 migrants who attempted to cross the English Channel from France and drowned the day before.

The British and French governments have been hindered by the deteriorating relationship since Brexit. They blamed the tragedy on the criminal network of human traffickers and vowed to crack down on these gangs because potential asylum seekers would risk their lives on small boats. .

“Given that France is a transit country, we need to strengthen European cooperation in this regard,” the French president said during his visit to Croatia.

On Thursday, another 62 migrants arrived in the UK by boat, and France intercepted another 30.

Yesterday, tensions between the United Kingdom and France continued, and the British Home Secretary Priti Patel stated that the French government has a responsibility to prevent people from crossing the English Channel. She told the House of Commons: “I have offered to cooperate with France to bring officials to the scene and take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the area so that vulnerable groups will not risk their lives by entering unseaworthy ships.”

Macron added that France is asking for “extra mobilization by the United Kingdom. Because I remind you that at this point, we are guarding the border for the British.”

The French President stated that cooperation with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Commission needs to be improved. His prime minister, Jean Castex, will invite the ministers responsible for immigration to a meeting in Calais on Sunday to discuss the crisis.

Johnson wrote to Macron on Thursday evening and made five proposals. The British Prime Minister said these proposals could ease the situation, including reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters.

Johnson added that a bilateral agreement to repatriate migrants to France will have “direct and significant impact” on those who try to cross the strait.

“If those who arrive in this country are repatriated quickly, people’s motivation to hand their lives into the hands of human traffickers will be greatly reduced,” Johnson wrote.

Both Johnson and Macron have been criticized by anti-immigration politicians for failing to stop thousands of asylum seekers and other immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The two migrants who were rescued on Wednesday and recovered from severe hypothermia were from Iraq and Somalia.

Macron has already begun to strengthen his immigration policy before his re-election campaign in April next year to counter anti-immigration candidates such as the debater Eric Zemur and the far-right politician Marina Le Pen.
Bilateral cooperation between London and Paris is made difficult by the post-Brexit disputes and sometimes hostile rhetoric, from immigration to fishing licenses, Covid-19 policy and the Northern Ireland Protocol between the leaders of France and the United Kingdom There were hostile comments on various aspects including the implementation of.

The head of the French Fisheries Commission, Gérard Romiti, said yesterday that fishermen would use trucks to block three ports-Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham near Caen-as well as the channel leading to the Channel Tunnel on Friday. The highway entrance serves as a “warning” to fishermen. Britain refused to grant sufficient permits to French fishing vessels after Brexit.

British immigration data released on Thursday showed the impact of small boat migration on the British asylum system. It received 15,104 applications in the July-September quarter, an increase of 60% over the same period in 2020. In the year ended September, the number of applications increased by 18% from the year ended September 2020, reaching 37,562.

However, the 37,235 applications received in the year ending in June-the last comparable period-still make the United Kingdom ranked fourth in Europe in terms of the number of asylum applications received, far lagging behind Germany’s. 113,625 and 87,180 in France.

On Thursday night, hundreds of people gathered in Calais and Dunkirk to mourn the deaths of those displaced by the sea who tried to cross the strait. They lit candles and gave speeches in English and Arabic.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president and chairman of Port-Calais and Port Boulogne, said that he was completely “fed up” with people at risk in camps around the city and lacked support for the 130-kilometer camps. Strengthening the police force along the coastline is “not the solution”.

He said that millions of euros spent on policing should be used to create an international immigration center funded by European countries that will accommodate potential asylum seekers and help them process their applications. He said that the “failure of the European Union and the United Kingdom” is that such a system has not been established to treat the displaced in a humane way.

Additional reporting by Eir Nolsoe and Domitille Alain in Paris




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