Boris Johnson is urging his French counterpart to agree to joint police patrols along the French Channel coast in the wake of a migrant boat capsizing on Wednesday evening, killing dozens of people – including five women and a young girl.
The PM spoke to Emmanuel Macron last night about the worst incident of its kind since the current Channel migrant crisis began, with immigration compliance minister Tom Pursglove confirming Mr Johnson had renewed a previous offer to send UK police and Border Force officers to mount coordinated patrols with France. Mr Macron has resisted the suggestion before, citing concerns about national sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Maya Konforti, secretary general of the French humanitarian organisation l’Auberge des Migrants, described the incident as a “catastrophe”. Speaking to French TV channel BFMTV this morning, she said the NGO “were sure this would happen one day” but stressed the number of deaths was the real concern.
“When it’s one or two people it’s manageable, but with 31 people, we don’t know how we’re going to do it,” she said. “It will be very, very complicated and it will also be very, very expensive.”
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French NGO rubbishes claim migrant crisis is due to human traffickers
Maya Konforti, secretary general of the French humanitarian organisation l’Auberge des Migrants, said the sinking of the migrant boat in the Channel last night was a “catastrophe”.
She told French TV channel BFMTV: “We were sure this would happen one day, but up ‘till now… when there have been deaths, it was one or two at a time, but this is a catastrophe.”
She said the NGO was working to identify the bodies, contact the families, organise the funerals and repatriate the bodies.
“When it’s one or two people it’s manageable, but with 31 people, we don’t know how we’re going to do it. It will be very, very complicated and it will also be very, very expensive.”
Ms Konforti also rubbished efforts by the UK government, and France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin, to blame human traffickers, saying “the existence of smugglers is in response to a need – a need because there’s no legal way to go and seek asylum in Britain”.
UK implores Macron to accept offer of British patrols in French waters
Following conversations last night, Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron have committed to “keeping all options on the table” in their efforts to break up the human trafficking gangs – which they consider the route cause of the issue – responsible for putting desperate migrants at risk in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
Immigration compliance minister Tom Pursglove confirmed that the PM had renewed a previous offer to send UK police and Border Force officers to mount joint patrols with the French.
The aim is to prevent migrant boats from attempting the perilous crossing, however the French have previously resisted the suggestion amid concerns about the implications for their national sovereignty.
Mr Pursglove said, however, the last incident showed the two countries needed to deepen their cooperation in dealing with the issue.
“The Prime Minister and President Macron have had exactly that discussion this evening. That is something that I am very keen to see happen,” he told BBC2’s Newsnight.
“It is the case that in the past we have offered to host and to help with joint patrols. I think that could be invaluable in helping to address this issue. I really do hope that the French will reconsider that offer.”
Remarks from various French officials this morning, however, suggest the EU nation will not accept such a move.
Hello, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage on the Channel migrant crisis. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates after a boat sunk last night, killing dozens of people desperately seeking a new live in Britain.
Source Link Channel migrants crossing – latest: Johnson calls for joint patrols with France after ‘catastrophic’ drownings