Sat, 09 Dec 2023

France, UK sign agreement to slow Channel crossings

Robert Besser
18 Nov 2022, 18:26 GMT+10

LONDON, England: The UK and France have signed an agreement to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats, by increasing police patrols on beaches in northern France.

The UK government said it will pay Paris $75 million in 2022-2023, some $10 million more than under an existing agreement, in exchange for France increasing security patrols along its coast by 40 percent.

"For the first time, British officials embedded in French operations to strengthen coordination and the effectiveness of our operations," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

The agreement was signed by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and British Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

The UK receives fewer asylum-seekers than many European nations, including Germany, France and Italy, but thousands of migrants from around the world travel to northern France each year in hopes of crossing the channel.

Many prefer to travel to the UK, since they have friends or families there, or because they speak English, or because it is thought to be easy to find work in the country.

There had been a sharp increase in the number of people attempting the hazardous journey across the Channel in dinghies and other small craft because authorities are clamping down on other routes, such as buses or trucks.

So far this year, more than 40,000 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, up from 28,000 in all of 2021 and 8,500 in 2020.

Frontex, the European Union's borders and coast guard agency, said in the first 10 months of 2022, 62,323 migrants were detected in the channel, a 70 percent increase on the same period last year. The figure includes both successful and intercepted crossings.

Dozens have died in crossing attempts, including when a packed smuggling boat capsized in November 2021, killing 27 people.

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