A total of 17 men, seven women and three children died on Wednesday off the coast of France. They were mainly Kurds from Iraq and Iran. The cause of the tragedy has not been officially established. The migrants used an inflatable boat, which was almost completely deflated by the time local fishermen discovered them. The latter called rescuers.
As a result of a joint search operation of the British and French authorities, two people were saved; they were hospitalized with severe hypothermia.
French Prime Minister Jean Casteks said that smugglers helped the refugees get to the shores of the strait, who offer residents of the Middle East and Africa for money to illegally get to Europe, including through the English Channel.
French President Emmanuel Macron promised that the French authorities will do everything possible to find and condemn those involved in the tragedy. The Minister of Internal Affairs of the republic, Gerald Darmanen, specified that five people were detained near the French border with Belgium, who are suspected of organizing illegal migration.
At the same time, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph published A photo of a group of migrants carrying an inflatable boat to lower it into the strait, while a French police car stands idly in front of them. The publication noted that the picture was taken shortly before the tragedy.
This is not the first such case. Earlier in November, UK ITV News posted video in which dozens of migrants in life jackets carried a small boat towards the English Channel, while French gendarmerie officers watched along the shore without trying to interfere with them.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the tragedy in the English Channel on Wednesday evening by phone. According to Johnson, the case proves that the efforts of the French authorities are not enough to stop illegal migration. The prime minister called for the unification of British and French forces on the shores of the strait. Johnson noted that it is “difficult” for the UK to convince other countries, “especially the French,” to “act in what we think the situation deserves.”
“It’s time <...> do whatever it takes to break these gangs [контрабандистов]who literally get away with killing [мигрантов]”- said the British Prime Minister. He explained that without tough measures, the smugglers “will stop at nothing” for profit.
Macron responded by asking London not to politicize the situation. The President pointed out that France and Great Britain have a common responsibility in this matter.
Following the conversation between Johnson and Macron, the Office of the British Prime Minister said that the parties agreed to urgently step up efforts to stop illegal migration across the English Channel.
During a speech on the tragedy on Thursday, Macron said France is using army drones as part of increased patrolling of its Channel coast. He added that France has already involved the maximum number of people in its history in the fight against illegal migration. According to him, “the security forces are mobilized day and night.”
“France will not allow the English Channel to become a cemetery,” Macron promised.
At the same time, the President explained that French measures alone are not enough. According to him, it is too late to stop illegal migrants when they are already on the shore in the hope of getting to the UK. According to the French leader, the problem must be dealt with deeper, which requires the efforts of other countries.
Macron’s government, amid the tragedy in the English Channel, announced that ministers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom, as well as EU officials, will meet on Sunday to discuss stepping up efforts to tackle smugglers’ smuggling of migrants.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanen, in turn, criticized the UK migration policy. He noted that British employers themselves encourage illegal migrants when hiring employees from among them. Darmanen added that criminal groups in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK are behind the illegal migration. The minister urged these countries to cooperate more with France, saying that they did not always fully respond to requests from the French judiciary for information.
“We should no longer be the only ones fighting the smugglers,” insists Darmanen.
Earlier, he called France “a victim of British politics.” “If the British changed their legislation very much – and they did it, but not enough – people would not come to Calais or Dunkirk, waiting for the opportunity to cross the English Channel,” the minister said.
Britain’s shadowy Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds agrees that more work needs to be done to stop illegal migration. “It’s unrealistic to think that the entire coastline [Ла-Манша] you can patrol. We also need to consider the practical actions of law enforcement agencies away from the coast, ”he said.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, in turn, warned that there is no quick fix to the migrant crisis. She said that it is necessary to eliminate the groups of smugglers and close their illegal routes. According to her, the British government is cooperating with other countries on this issue. Patel added that he suggested that the French Ministry of Internal Affairs strengthen patrols on the coast with British police, although the latter would not be able to carry out detentions on foreign soil.
Earlier in November, Patel said that the Schengen agreement, which simplified visa controls between EU member states, led to the fact that France was “inundated” with migrants trying to get to the UK.
“Let’s not forget that the real problem with illegal migration flows is that the EU has no means of protecting its borders,” she said.
The problem of illegal immigrants trying to get to the UK through the English Channel has remained relevant for more than five years. Recently, their number has only increased, so, on November 13 through the English Channel to the UK, according to the British authorities, a record number of people sailed in boats per day – almost 1.2 thousand. The previous record of 853 was also set this month.
Sports store Decathlon previously removed kayaks from sale in the towns of Calais and Grande Sainte, near the strait, so that migrants would not try to use them to ferry to the UK.