Home Secretary Sajid Javid has spoken with his French counterpart over the phone and voiced the UK’s commitment to “financial support” to pay for drones and surveillance to fight against “irregular sea departures”. According to the French Interior Ministry, as cited by the Independent, France and the UK are now developing a joint action plan to tackle the issue. It is set to be discussed during French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner’s upcoming trip to London, France Bleu reports.
Paris has enacted a number of measures against the illegal Channel crossings in response to the influx of migrants trying to reach the UK. It includes boosting patrol forces and port surveillance in Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais as well as better control over the beaches in the area and countering human traffickers in the area, posing a public threat and putting the lives of those trying to cross the Channel in danger.
Concrete actions against these illegal and dangerous crossings: Reinforcement of the inter-services coordination, increased surveillance in the ports, training professionals of the coastal patrol, countering smugglers.
"This action plan must enable us to put an end to these crossings of the Channel, which are not only illegal but also dangerous. It is in our interests, as well as British interests, to do everything possible to prevent the development of new trafficking routes that might attract illegal migrants to our coast once again", a statement by French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner reads.
“The prospect of Brexit does not alter the need for our two countries to strengthen our bilateral cooperation to implement concrete and coordinated measures to combat irregular immigration”, Castaner said.
The UK’s Javid, who cut his family holiday short to deal with the crisis, welcomed the move by the French authorities. Incidentally, the news comes after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that a Royal Navy vessel had been deployed at Javid's request.
In 2018, 71 boats attempted to reach British shores in comparison to 12 the year before. Some 504 migrants sought to cross the English Channel. More than half managed to reach British waters and coasts, while 228 migrants were detained by the French authorities. The spike came in November and December, as 80 percent of illegal crossings occurred during these two months. Most of the migrants were reported to be Iranians and Syrians.
According to Paris, improved border measures might have prompted the recent influx of migrants. In accordance with the Sandhurst Treaty, the UK pledged to pay over $55 million to improve border security in French ports, including the one on Calais. This includes funding for drones and surveillance.