Britain, France sign fresh deal to reduce migrant crossings

Agence France-Presse
Britain, France sign fresh deal to reduce migrant crossings

INTERCEPT. UK Border Force Patrol Vessel 'Hunter' intercepts migrants in a dinghy sailing in the Channel toward the south coast of England on September 1, 2020 after crossing from France.

Glyn Kirk/AFP

Seven deaths have been recorded so far in 2020

Increased patrols and technology will be deployed along France’s beaches under a new agreement between Paris and London aimed at stopping illegal migration across the Channel.

A growing number of migrants have tried to reach Britain across the perilous and busy shipping lane in recent months, with four deaths recorded in 2019 and seven so far this year.

Just this weekend, French patrol boats rescued 64 migrants, including a pregnant woman and children apparently suffering from hypothermia, attempting to cross over to Britain.

The deal will see French patrols doubled from December 1, with drones and radar used to detect those attempting to cross, Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said Saturday.

Welcoming the deal, Patel said it would help the two countries with their “shared mission to make Channel crossings completely unviable”.

As part of the deal, Britain “has pledged to make an additional financial investment of 31.4 million euros to support France’s major efforts against illegal crossings,” the French interior ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. 

The ministry also said it would review results over the next six months to “assess the effectiveness and impact of these additional measures”.

The issue has been a source of tension, with Britain accusing France of not doing enough to stop the crossings.

In September, French authorities said they had intercepted more than 1,300 people trying to reach Britain, including a handful who had attempted to swim the 30-odd kilometres (18 miles) across the Channel.

Around 6,200 attempted the crossing between January 1 and the end of August, with inflatable boats, paddleboards, kayaks or even life jackets to keep them afloat.

Northern France has long been a magnet for people seeking to smuggle themselves to Britain in small boats or in one of the thousands of trucks and cars that cross over daily on ferries and trains. –

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