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POLITICS

UK government to give France €62 million to tackle illegal Channel crossings

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and his British counterpart Priti Patel held a video call and agreed to "reinforce" cooperation to fight clandestine immigration.

UK government to give France €62 million to tackle illegal Channel crossings
Illustration photo: Russel Kirk/AFP

Britain has pledged €62.7 million in 2021-2022 to help France stem the flow of illegal migrants crossing the Channel, the French interior ministry said.

This includes doubling police patrols along certain sections of the French coastline.

According to the BBC, nearly 8,000 people on 345 vessels have reached the English coast from mainland Europe this year.

Growing numbers of migrants – many of them on dangerously overcrowded inflatable boats – have reached the UK since the start of 2020. The crossings typically increase in favourable summer weather.

One dinghy carrying around 50 people including women and children landed Monday in Kent on England’s southern coast, with some raising their hands in celebration.

Dan O’Mahoney, the government’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, called the rise in crossings “unacceptable” and “dangerous”.

“People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not risk their lives making these dangerous crossing,” he said.

“We are continuing to pursue the criminals behind these illegal crossings.”

Last year, the government says roughly 8,500 people arrived in Britain having made the perilous journey across the Channel, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Most of the crossings start in France, and the two governments have been at loggerheads over who should take responsibility for stopping them.

O’Mahoney said the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill would “protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings”.

The legislation increases the maximum sentence for migrants entering the UK unlawfully from six months to four years. Convicted people-smugglers would face a life sentence.

“People cross the Channel because they are out of options,” Daniel Sohege, director of the human rights group Stand For All, wrote on Twitter.

“This is what happens when other routes are closed,” he added, saying the new bill would make the situation “worse and more dangerous”.

Priti Patel insisted the legislation was long overdue.

“This bill will finally address the issues that have resulted in the broken system – of over a long period of time – of illegal migration,” she told parliament on Monday.

Member comments

    1. Perhaps Britain should suspend all visa-free travel from France until France gets control of its border

      1. We have control but your benefits for the immigrants are so much better then ours. You obviously have no concept of sarcasm.

  1. Lol, with that money I hope the French can build better launching off points and drop some decent directional bouys just inside French territorial waters to help would be refugees make a safer crossing…(that was a joke btw, but if you want to use it to stoke up your righteous indignation, feel free).

    The French coastline huge area to patrol so it is hardly a surprise that people keep slipping through. If they are determined to do so they will always find a way and organised crime (which moves most of these people across) pretty much always adapts quicker to changes and restrictions than official law enforcement bodies do.

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POLITICS

Mayor of southern French town bans smoking in cars

The mayor of a town in southern France has banned smoking in cars in an attempt to limit forest fires - many of which are caused by carelessly discarded cigarette butts.

Mayor of southern French town bans smoking in cars

With France facing a hot, dry summer, some areas have already been hit by wildfires, while many others in the south of the country are on a high alert.

One of the major causes of the devastating fires is carelessly discarded cigarette butts, so the mayor of the commune of Langlade in the Gard département in south east France, has enacted a special decree banning smoking.

Smoking will be banned in a number of outdoor spaces that do not have facilities, including the town’s soccer stadium, shooting range, archery range, tennis courts – and also bans drivers from smoking in their cars. The decree is in force through the whole of the commune of Langlade.

The decree runs until July 31st and offenders risk a €15 fine – although local authorities told the Gazette de Nîmes that their main priority is raising awareness of the risk of fire from smoking, rather than handing out fines.

The Gard département has already been hit by a wildfire that destroyed several hundred acres, and firefighters have warned that the south of the country is ‘like a tinderbox’ because of the unusually early heatwave and drought that has left land parched.

READ ALSO What to do if you see a wildfire

In France smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces, but is legal in outdoor spaces such as open-air sports grounds and on the outdoor terraces of bars and cafés.

Smoking in a private vehicle is legal, as long as there are no young children in the car. Smoking while driving is not explicitly banned, but drivers can be fined if they are not in proper control of the vehicle.

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