The latest tragedy in the English Channel, with a still provisional toll of at least 27 dead migrants, is forcing cooperation between France and the United Kingdom. President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed themselves in this regard in a telephone conversation on Wednesday night, and this Thursday, on the British side, the proposal to carry out joint naval patrols on the French coast to prevent the departure of boats.
The French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, has reported the arrest of a fifth alleged trafficker, possibly related to the journey that resulted in the sinking of a boat carrying more than thirty people. The number of deaths has been oscillating between 27 and 31. Among them were five women and a girl. It was a fisherman who saw corpses floating and alerted the rescue teams. Two migrants were rescued alive.
The French Interior Minister asks for European help and recalls that the traffickers buy the inflatable boats in Germany
Darmanin defended himself against the accusations that often come from London about the laxity of the French police. The minister, who belongs to the toughest and right-wing wing of the government, indicated that on Wednesday, the day of the worst shipwreck of the migration crisis, there were 780 agents patrolling the beaches from which the boats leave. Darmanin emphasized European cooperation. He recalled, for example, that traffickers often buy inflatable boats in Germany. Hours later, Darmanin himself indicated that this Sunday he will meet in Calais with his British, Dutch, Belgian and German counterparts to discuss the immigration emergency.
In Paris, there was an emergency meeting of several French ministers to address the crisis. The premier, Jean Castex, isolated in the Matignon palace after having contracted the covid, could not participate in the meeting in person.
The British media publish photos of the French police passively attending the departure of the boats
Between France and Great Britain, whose relations are not experiencing their best due to the consequences of Brexit, there is usually a cross of reproaches. Paris believes that British asylum legislation – which is under review – is too generous and acts as a magnet for irregular immigrants. London attributes to the French a passive complicity with clandestine crossings. This vision of events is accentuated by the British press, always happy to activate nationalist springs and feed anti-French misgivings. Today some newspapers, such as the tabloid ‘The Sun’, and also the BBC website, publish photos in which an off-road vehicle, supposedly police, is seen contemplating the scene of migrants loading a large boat to go to sea in the French coast.
The proposal for Franco-British naval patrols was evoked by Johnson in his conversation with Macron and this Thursday the Secretary of Immigration, Tom Pursglove, insisted on it.
“We need a system based on compassion; this cannot continue,” says the Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has harshly deplored “the devastating loss of human life.” “We need a better system based on security, compassion, justice and cooperation across borders,” he tweeted. This cannot continue. ” In Calais, there was a vigil to pay tribute to the victims. Shouts were raised against Darmanin, whom they called a “murderer”.
Wednesday’s deaths have not deterred those seeking to reach Britain at all costs. Two boats, with about 40 people on board, were escorted to Dover this morning, a BBC reporter found.
“France will not let the English Channel become a graveyard,” Macron said of the sad events in front of Calais, while calling for an emergency meeting of the competent European ministers. Paris did not have such an answer when Italy, for years, endured the arrival, some days, of thousands of migrants to its shores in Sicily and Lampedusa, and faced shipwrecks in which more than 300 people died, sometimes. While other European countries, such as Spain, Germany or even Norway, sent warships and tugs to help the Italian Navy and Coast Guard, overwhelmed by rescue operations, the French Government, neither with the conservative Sarkozy nor with the Socialist Hollande on the Elysee, they sent no ships or opened their ports in Corsica for reception.