Paris and London show their willingness to cooperate

Paris and London on Thursday showed their willingness to step up joint efforts to fight smuggling gangs organizing illegal crossings, the day after the death of 27 migrants after the sinking of their boat in the English Channel.

The tragedy, feared by the authorities and associations, is the deadliest since the soaring in 2018 of migratory crossings of the Channel, in the face of the growing lockdown of the French port of Calais (north) and Eurotunnel, used until then by migrants trying to reach England.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday evening, the French President and the British Prime Minister agreed to “intensify their efforts” and of “keep all options on the table“to fight smuggling gangs, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Emmanuel Macron a “let know“to Boris Johnson”that he expected the British to cooperate fully and refrain from using a dramatic situation for political ends“after this tragedy, said the Elysee on Thursday.

M. Macron “insisted on the need to act with dignity, respect and in a spirit of effective cooperation when it comes to human lives“, according to the French presidency, specifying that”the French and British interior ministers will hold talks on this subject on Thursday“.

Mr Johnson said on Wednesday evening that efforts to deal with the migration crisis had not been “enough“, saying to have”had difficulty persuading some of (his) partners, in particular the French, to act up to the situation“.

British Immigration Secretary of State Kevin Foster stressed that London was ready to offer “ways“additional to France, beyond its financial aid, such as the helicopter deployed on Wednesday as part of the rescue operation.

According to Tom Pursglove, another secretary of state responsible for immigration, Mr Johnson reiterated during the telephone interview a proposal, previously rejected by Paris for reasons of sovereignty, to organize Franco-British patrols. on the French coast in order to prevent migrants from boarding.

In Paris, Prime Minister Jean Castex holds an interministerial meeting on “migrant crossings in the English Channel following the dramatic sinking“.

This issue, which regularly stirs up bilateral tensions, is delicate for the British Conservative government, which has made the fight against immigration its hobbyhorse in the wake of Brexit.

Mafia organizations

The drama unfolded on a “long boat“, a fragile inflatable boat with a flexible bottom whose use by smugglers has increased since the summer. The boat had left Dunkirk (north), according to a source familiar with the matter.

Among the victims are 17 men, seven women and three young people, as well as two survivors, according to the prosecutor of Lille (north). There would be a teenager and three 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“, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday.

The wreckage has been seized and will be examined to clarify the causes of the sinking.

According to Mr. Darmanin, a fifth person suspected of being a smuggler was arrested overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. He had “a german license plate“and had”bought zodiacs in Germany“, he added, indicating to have no details on the circumstances of the tragedy.

Four suspected smugglers were arrested late Wednesday afternoon, suspected of having a link with the tragedy, according to the minister.

An investigation was opened in France for “help with irregular entry and stay in an organized group“, “homicide and manslaughter” and “conspiracy“.

Since January 1, we have 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, he said, arguing that countries should work”ensemble” on this topic.

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 November 20, 31,500 migrants had left the coast since the start of the year and 7,800 migrants had been rescued. A trend that has not abated despite the winter temperatures.

Before this sinking, the human toll since January amounted to three dead and four missing, after six dead and three missing in 2020.

In Calais, a “circle of silence“will take place Thursday at the end of the day to pay tribute to the drowned migrants.

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