France calls for EU deal with Britain on illegal immigration

AFP , Monday 29 Nov 2021

France wants a new post-Brexit accord between Britain and the European Union on handling illegal immigration, in the wake of the disaster in the Channel last week that left 27 migrants dead, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday.

illegal migrants
France says it wants a deal with the UK that can help minors be reunited with their parents without being forced into the hands of traffickers. AFP

He called for a "balanced" accord that would offer "a real solution" for dealing with highly organized trafficking networks often spread across France, Belgium, Germany, and other countries.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex will write to his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Tuesday to outline the agreement, Darmanin added.

The deal could include ways to ensure unaccompanied minors can safely reach Britain to rejoin family, instead of putting themselves at the mercy of traffickers.

But he rejected proposals that would see Britain unilaterally force migrant boats back to France, saying it was against international maritime law and would put people's lives in danger.

"We cannot accept this practice," he said.

He also rejected calls to have French police intercept migrant boats already in the water, saying it was a dangerous method that migrants would resist in any case.

He reiterated calls for Britain to implement a legal route for migrants to seek asylum, claiming that it would discourage people from trying to make the Channel crossing in the first place.

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