Published: Tue, January 01, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Minister to discuss migrant crisis with Channel border officers

Minister to discuss migrant crisis with Channel border officers

The rising number of migrants crossing the Channel will be discussed by Home Secretary Sajid Javid at a special meeting with other senior government officials, Border Force and the National Crime Agency later.

The two European countries "are coordinating to strengthen our actions to combat Channel crossings undertaken by certain irregular migrants on small boats, at peril of their lives", French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner wrote on Twitter.

Mr Javid has also asked the Border Force to provide information on whether more vessels will act as a deterrent or encourage more people to make the crossing.

"Working with our French partners, we would anticipate further arrests over the coming weeks and also more attempts to reach the United Kingdom are likely".

In the coming weeks, the two countries will increase surveillance patrols and focus on measures to dismantle trafficking gangs and improve awareness about the dangers of sea crossings in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet: "We have a duty to reach out the hand of humanity, support and friendship to people who are in danger and seeking a place of safety".

Mr Javid has come under growing pressure from his own backbenches to act, with Kent MP Rehman Chishti telling him to "get a grip".

Mr Javid took the decision to return to the United Kingdom amid calls from MPs for the Royal Navy to be sent in or for Border Force cutters to be brought back from the Mediterranean to intercept traffickers' dinghies.

Speaking as the home secretary declared a "major incident" in waters off the south coast of England at the weekend, Rt Rev Trevor Willmott called for a compassionate response.

Six more Iranian men were found on a beach in Kent on Saturday after crossing the English Channel in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, meaning that 100 have either been picked up at sea or made it to the United Kingdom since Christmas Eve.

French authorities rescued eight migrants off the port of Calais
French authorities rescued eight migrants off the port of Calais

Lucy Moreton, a spokesman for the Immigration Services Union, said it was "very hard to know" how much the French authorities were doing.

Javid will hold talks with Whitehall chiefs, the Border Force and the National Crime Agency on Monday as he prepares to step up action.

Britain and France have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation over a spike in migrants trying to cross the Channel, the UK's Home Office said Sunday.

"That is why I will continue to work closely with all partners to ensure we do even more to intercept these boats before they reach the United Kingdom, to tackle the organised crime gangs that facilitate many of these risky journeys, and to deter and protect those driven to make them".

Mr Javid thanked the French minister for his "partnership", adding: "UK and France will build on our joint efforts to deter illegal migration - protecting our borders and human life".

A spokeswoman for the French Maritime Prefecture, Ingrid Parrot, said authorities were dealing with a "network" of organised people smugglers. "I am calling for our Border Force cutters now cruising the Mediterranean to return to United Kingdom waters and form a new Dover Patrol to take back control of our borders immediately".

Britain's Home Secretary faced demands on Sunday to recall patrol ships from humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean to deal with a sharp uptick in attempted migrant crossings to the UK.

But he resisted calls to deploy more cutters to the Channel, saying he was keeping the number of vessels available to the Border Force "under close review".

Ms Parrot said smugglers are using the prospect of Brexit as a way to try to encourage migrants to attempt the perilous crossing before the impending change in United Kingdom relations with the EU.

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