France strengthens maritime rescue work, arguing with the UK over the death of immigrants Reuters

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© Reuters. File photo: On November 24, 2021, damaged inflatable dinghies and sleeping bags abandoned by immigrants were seen on the beach near Vimel, France. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

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Authors: Ardee Napolitano and Lucien Libert

Calais/Zagreb, France (Reuters)-France said on Thursday that it was mobilizing reserve personnel and stepping up rescue operations at sea as London and Paris carried out the deaths of 27 migrants who tried to reach Britain in inflatable boats. Blame.

On Wednesday, migrants-including a child-drowned when their dinghy was discouraged in the strait. As people flee from poverty and conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and other regions, they try to shake and overload the boat every year. One of many such adventure journeys in.

These deaths have created more hostility among countries that have already divided on Brexit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called France at fault, and French Interior Minister Gerald accused Britain of “mismanagement of immigration”.

President Emmanuel Macron defended the actions of Paris, but said that France is only a transit country for many immigrants, and more European cooperation is needed to solve the problem of illegal immigration.

Macron said during a visit to the Croatian capital of Zagreb: “I will… very clearly say that our security forces will be mobilized day and night,” promised the French army “to the maximum mobilization”, reserve personnel and drones to monitor the coast .

“But most importantly, we need to seriously strengthen our cooperation…with Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the European Commission.”

French officials said that a smuggler arrested at night bought small boats in Germany. Many of them passed through Belgium and then reached the northern coast of France on their way to Britain.

Sensitive political issues

Wednesday’s incident was the worst ever in the history of the waterway between Britain and France, one of the busiest waterways in the world.

As Brexit and immigration issues are closely related, most of the focus on Thursday is who should be held accountable, even if both parties vowed to seek a joint solution.

Johnson said: “It is difficult for us to convince some of our partners, especially the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves.”

Britain once again proposed to conduct joint patrols along the French coast near Calais.

Interior Minister Priti Patel said: “I have proposed to cooperate with France to deploy more officials on the ground and take all necessary measures to protect the security of the area so that vulnerable groups will not be affected by entry. Unseaworthy ships risk their lives.”

Paris has consistently rejected such calls. It is not clear whether it will change its mind five months before the presidential election. Immigration and security are important topics in the election.

They are also sensitive issues in the UK, and Brexit activists have told voters that leaving the EU will mean regaining control of the country’s borders.

If Paris fails to stop the flow of immigrants, London has threatened in the past to cut financial support for French border police.

The French Prime Minister’s Office stated that France will invite the Interior Ministers of Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom as well as the European Commission to participate in the meeting in Calais on Sunday.

EU Immigration Commissioner Ylva Johansson said that she will talk to Darmanin later on Thursday to provide financial help and assistance from the EU border guard Frontex.

“The tragedy we are afraid of”

Rescue volunteers and human rights organizations said that such drowning incidents were expected, because smugglers and immigrants would take more risks to avoid more and more police.

The Auberge de Migrants NGO said: “To accuse the smugglers is to conceal the responsibility of the French and British authorities.”

It and other non-governmental organizations point out that the Eurotunnel undersea railway line lacks legal immigration routes and has improved safety, which has prompted immigrants to try to cross dangerous sea routes.

“This is a tragedy we are afraid of. This is what we expected. We have already sounded the alarm,” said Bernard Barron, head of SNSM in Calais, an organization that is a rescuer at sea. Volunteer organization.

But the UK rejected a major request from NGOs.

When asked about the possibility of a safe way to apply for asylum from France, Johnson’s spokesperson said that providing immigrants with a safe way to apply for asylum from France would only increase the incentives for people to take dangerous journeys.

“We need to solve the problem of illegal immigration upstream before people reach the French coast,” he said.

The BBC quoted government data as saying that so far, the number of immigrants crossing the English Channel has soared from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019 to 25,776 in 2021.

A French official said that before Wednesday’s disaster, 14 people had drowned when trying to reach the UK this year. In 2020, 7 people died, 2 people were missing, and 4 people died in 2019.

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