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UK and France clash over response to Channel migrant tragedy

Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron have been on Thursday struggling to co-ordinate a coherent response to the deaths of 27 migrants who had drowned making an attempt to cross the English Channel from France the day gone by.

The UK and French governments, hampered by deteriorating relations since Brexit, blamed prison networks of people-traffickers for the tragedy and vowed to crack down on the gangs as would-be asylum seekers risked their lives in small boats.

“We need stronger European co-operation on this, given that France is a transit country,” the French president stated throughout a go to to Croatia.

On Thursday, an additional 62 migrants reached the UK in small boats, whereas France stopped one other 30.

Tensions continued between the UK and France yesterday with Priti Patel, the British house secretary, saying the onus was on the French authorities to cease individuals crossing the Channel. “I’ve offered to work with France to put officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats,” she advised the House of commons.

Macron added that France was asking for “additional mobilisation from the British. Because I remind you, when it comes to this, we are holding the border for the British.”

France’s president stated co-operation wanted to enhance with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and the European Commission. Jean Castex, his prime minister, is inviting ministers answerable for immigration to a gathering in Calais on Sunday to focus on the disaster.

Johnson wrote to Macron on Thursday night setting out 5 proposals that the UK prime minister stated might alleviate the state of affairs, together with reciprocal maritime patrols in one another’s territorial waters.

Johnson added {that a} bilateral settlement to return migrants again to France would have an “immediate and significant impact” on these making an attempt to cross the channel.

“If those who reach this country were swiftly returned, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced,” Johnson wrote.

Both Johnson and Macron are uncovered to criticism from anti-immigration politicians over their perceived failure to cease 1000’s of asylum seekers and different migrants arriving from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Two migrants rescued on Wednesday and recovering from extreme hypothermia have been from Iraq and Somalia.

Macron has moved to harden his migration insurance policies forward of his marketing campaign for re-election subsequent April in opposition to anti-immigration candidates such because the polemicist Éric Zemmour and far-right politician Marine Le Pen.

Bilateral co-operation between London and Paris has been made tough by post-Brexit arguments, and typically mutually hostile feedback, between French and UK leaders over all the things from the migrants to fishing licences, Covid-19 insurance policies and the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.

Gérard Romiti, who heads the French fisheries committee, on Thursday stated fishermen would use vans to block three ports — Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham close to Caen — and the motorway strategy to the Channel Tunnel on Friday as a “warning shot” to the UK over its refusal to grant sufficient licences to French fishing boats after Brexit.

UK immigration figures launched on Thursday confirmed the impact of small-boat migration on the UK asylum system. It obtained 15,104 functions within the July to September quarter, 60 per cent increased in contrast with the identical quarter of 2020. Applications for the yr to September have been up 18 per cent on the yr to September 2020, to 37,562.

However, for the yr to June — the final interval for which comparisons are attainable — the 37,235 functions obtained nonetheless put the UK solely fourth in Europe for the variety of asylum functions obtained, effectively behind 113,625 in Germany and 87,180 in France.

Hundreds gathered in Calais and Dunkirk on Thursday night to mourn the deaths of these displaced individuals at sea as they tried the journey throughout the channel, with candles lit and speeches given in English and Arabic.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president and chair of the ports of Calais and Boulogne, stated he was fully “fed up” with the dearth of help being given to individuals in perilous conditions in camps across the metropolis and that growing policing of the 130km coast was “not the solution”.

He stated the tens of millions of euros being spent on policing ought to as an alternative be used to create a global centre for migrants, financed by nations throughout Europe, that may home potential asylum seekers and assist them course of their functions. It was a “failure of the EU and the UK” {that a} system like this had not but been created to deal with displaced individuals in a humane approach, he stated.

Additional reporting by Eir Nolsoe and Domitille Alain in Paris

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