France invites “The ministers in charge of Belgian, German, Dutch and British immigration, as well as the European Commission, at a meeting”, Sunday in Calais, Matignon announced Thursday, November 25 after an interministerial meeting, the day after the sinking of a migrant boat which left 27 dead off Calais. “This meeting should make it possible to define the ways and means of strengthening police, judicial and humanitarian cooperation”, for “Better fight against the networks of smugglers at work in migratory flows”, explained the services of the Prime Minister.
“We need stronger European cooperation in this area, France, in this case, is a transit country. We are fighting against these networks of smugglers who use distress, but for this we must improve European cooperation ”, French President Emmanuel Macron said during a trip to Zagreb, Croatia.
“When these women and men arrive on the shores of the Channel, it is already too late”, he insisted. “The Prime Minister’s visit [Jean Castex] and ministers at the start of the week in Belgium enabled a series of advances to be made. We are now going to implement them in an accelerated manner ”, said the head of state.
He also mentioned “A series of meetings to be held by the Minister of the Interior [Gérald Darmanin] in the coming days to better prevent arrivals on French soil and also to better integrate the British in the prevention of these flows, by dismantling the networks of smugglers ”.
“Never has France had so many police and gendarmes and, at times, soldiers mobilized in the fight against illegal immigration at the Spanish and Italian borders, but also Belgian”, recalled Mr. Macron.
” This [jeudi] morning, he added, the Prime Minister held a meeting and all the operational conclusions will be unveiled, but we will, on the one hand, obviously maintain this maximum presence, continue to also use drones, in particular those of the army, mobilize reservists ”and, on the other hand, “Ask for an additional mobilization of the British, because we are in a way holding the border for the British”.
M. Macron a “Let know” to Mr Johnson, in a telephone interview, Thursday evening “That he expected the British to cooperate fully and refrain from using a dramatic situation for political ends”, had previously reported the Elysee.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening to take back migrants arriving in England from France. “I propose that we set up a bilateral readmission agreement to allow the return of all illegal migrants crossing the Channel”, detailed the British leader in a letter to his counterpart, posted on Twitter.
My letter to President Macron. https://t.co/vXH0jpxzPo
Joint police patrols offered by London
To fight against criminal groups organizing illegal Channel crossings, we must “Respond to long-term call effects, break down criminal gangs that treat people like commodities and attack supply chains. It requires a coordinated international effort ”British Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs on Thursday, saying she was « and constant contact » with its European counterparts and repeating the offer of the United Kingdom to send forces to patrol the French coasts, rejected by Paris so far.
For his part, British Secretary of State for Immigration Kevin Foster stressed that London was ready to offer ” ways “ additional to France, beyond its financial assistance, such as the helicopter deployed on Wednesday as part of the rescue operation.
“We’re willing to offer support on the ground, we’re willing to offer resources, we’re willing to offer, literally, people to go. [sur la côte française] and assist the French authorities ”, he said on the BBC. “It is not in anyone’s best interest for this to continue. “
According to Tom Pursglove, Secretary of State for Immigration Compliance and Courts, Mr Johnson reiterated in the telephone interview a proposal – previously rejected by Paris on the grounds of sovereignty – d ” organize Franco-British patrols on the French coasts in order to prevent migrants from boarding. “I really hope that the French will reconsider this proposal”, he told the BBC on Wednesday night.
This question of crossings, which regularly stirs up tensions between London and Paris, is delicate for the Conservative government of Mr Johnson, which has made the fight against immigration its hobbyhorse in the wake of Brexit.
Following a crisis meeting on Wednesday, Mr Johnson criticized the French, saying they had not done so ” quite “ to prevent crossings, despite aid of more than 60 million euros to strengthen the surveillance of their coastline. “What we are proposing is to increase our support, but also to work with our partners on the beaches concerned”, he had declared.
A fifth person arrested
A fifth person suspected of being a smuggler was arrested overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. Four suspected smugglers were arrested late Wednesday afternoon, suspected of having a link with the sinking.
Among the victims are 17 men, seven women and three young people, as well as two survivors, according to the prosecutor of Lille. There would be a teenager and 3 children among the victims, said a police source. The two survivors, an Iraqi and a Somali, were in “Severe hypothermia yesterday” most “A little better today”, said Thursday on RTL Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said they would be heard soon.
According to Mr. Darmanin, the fifth smuggler arrested on the night of Wednesday to Thursday had “A German license plate”. He had “Bought Zodiacs in Germany”, he added, explaining that he had no details on the circumstances of the tragedy.
The drama unfolded on a « long boat », a fragile inflatable boat with a flexible bottom, widely used by smugglers since the summer. The boat left from Dunkirk, according to a source familiar with the matter. The wreckage was seized and will be examined to clarify the causes of the sinking, announced the prosecutor.
The specialized interregional jurisdiction (JIRS) of Lille was seized of the investigation, opened for “Help with irregular entry and stay in an organized group”, “Manslaughter and unintentional injury” and ” conspiracy “. The border police, the maritime gendarmerie and the Central Office for the Suppression of Irregular Immigration and the Employment of Untitled Foreigners (Ocriest) are seized, according to the police source.
“Since the 1is January, we arrested 1,500 smugglers ”, assured Mr. Darmanin Thursday. Smugglers who function as “Mafia organizations” who “Fall under organized crime”, with the use in particular of “Encrypted phones”. There are “Criminal associations” in Belgium, Germany and England, the minister said, arguing that countries should work « ensemble » on this topic.
The tragedy, feared by the authorities and associations, is by far the deadliest since the sudden increase, in 2018, of migratory crossings of the Channel, in the face of the growing lockdown of the port of Calais and Eurotunnel, used until then. by migrants trying to reach England.
Attempts to cross the Channel on board small boats have doubled in the past three months, the maritime prefect of the Channel and the North Sea, Philippe Dutrieux, had recently warned.
As of 20 November, 31,500 migrants had left the coasts since the start of the year and 7,800 migrants had been rescued, while at least three had died and four were missing. A trend that has not abated despite the winter temperatures. According to London, 22,000 migrants made the crossing over the first ten months of the year.
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After the death of 27 migrants, European ministers and the European Commission will meet in Calais on Sunday