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June 1, 2019
Channel migrants: No easy answers to issue, says Javid
Politics

Channel migrants: No easy answers to issue, says Javid


Sajid JavidImage copyright
PA

The issue of increasing numbers of migrants trying to cross the Channel in small boats to reach the UK has “no easy answers”, the Home Secretary says.

Sajid Javid is to chair talks in London later after agreeing a joint action plan with the French interior minister.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “The reasons behind the increased crossings are complicated and in many cases outside of our control.”

Since November, more than 220 people have attempted the journey.

Mr Javid has come under growing pressure to act, and cut short a family holiday in South Africa to address the issue.

Following a call with his French counterpart, Christophe Castaner, the pair agreed an “enhanced action plan” to be put in place in the coming week.

It includes increasing joint patrols and surveillance, disrupting organised trafficking gangs and raising awareness among migrants of the dangers of a Channel crossing.

The Home Office did not give information on how this would be done.

Some MPs – including Conservative backbenchers – have criticised a lack of detail, as well as calling for more Border Force patrol boats to be deployed.

Mr Javid said the complex factors behind the rise in numbers of people attempting the Channel crossing included instability in the Middle East, organised crime and tighter security at Calais.

He wrote: “Unfortunately, this means that there are no easy answers. So our response is focused both here in the UK and abroad.”

He will chair a meeting with the Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Whitehall officials and other agencies on Monday morning to discuss what further action can be taken.

He added: “While we have obligations to genuine asylum seekers… we will not stand by and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our global society.”

Image copyright
PA

Currently, only one of the Border Force’s fleet of five cutters – specialist boats which the force describes as being capable of rescuing several migrant boats at the same time – is currently operational in the Dover Strait.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has repeated calls for Border Force cutters to be called back from search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean to patrol the Channel.

The Home Office has not said whether any of the other four cutters would return.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the armed forces were ready to offer help if needed.

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Media captionA migrant rescue off the coast of Dover in November 2018

Six more Iranian men were found on a beach near Dover on Sunday morning.

The NCA said French authorities prevented a further attempt to cross the Channel on Saturday night.

However, compared with the number of refugees seeking asylum in the UK every year, the number who have attempted to cross the channel by dinghy is tiny, says BBC political correspondent Ben Wright.

In 2017, 26,350 people applied for asylum, an average of about 2,200 a month.

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.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott accused Mr Javid of exploiting the problem.

She told the Guardian: “There’s no question that, with Brexit and also with the approach of the meaningful vote in January, people are being whipped up about migration issues, because the government thinks this is the best way of frightening people to vote for their deal.”





Source BBC News

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