UK and France strike migrant deal, Med states seek new rules


Britain and France are expected to agree a deal as early as Monday to step up joint efforts to stop illegal migrants making perilous Channel crossings, a British newspaper reported on Saturday.

The deal will dramatically increase the 200 French officers and volunteers who operate on Channel beaches and France will target a “much higher” proportion of migrants to be prevented from leaving, the Telegraph newspaper said. France will accept a joint control center where British immigration officers will be stationed, he said.

On Friday, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and his French counterpart Catherine Colonna issued a statement stressing “the urgency of tackling all forms of illegal migration”. British officials have said a deal is close. British and French government officials declined to comment on the reports on Saturday.

The Express newspaper said a deal could be signed next week and would likely include more British drones to detect migrants hiding in sand dunes before they attempt the dangerous crossings often in flimsy dinghies. So far this year, around 40,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats, up from 28,526 last year, putting pressure on Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to find a way to slow the flow.

Separately, four southern European states complained on Saturday that they had been forced to bear the brunt of migrants crossing the Mediterranean and called for changes in European Union policy. Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta said in a joint statement that it was unfair that they were supposed to be harboring people rescued by charity boats as they attempted to cross Africa, and that accountability should be shared more widely across the bloc.

Private charity ships often flout agreed international standards, the countries’ interior and migration ministers said, calling for a “serious discussion on how to better coordinate these (rescue) operations in the Mediterranean”. The statement follows a heated row between the Italian and French governments that culminated on Friday when a charity-run ship carrying around 230 migrants docked at the port of Toulon in southern France after being turned away by Italy.

The four countries said the states whose flags the rescue vessels fly should take full legal responsibility for the vessels.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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