London and Paris – January 31, 2024
British Interior Minister James Cleverly and his French counterpart Gerald Darmanin have announced joint efforts to expedite the deployment of aerial surveillance equipment to address the escalating issue of migrants attempting perilous small boat crossings from France to Britain.
In recent years, tens of thousands of migrants have embarked on hazardous journeys, navigating the English Channel in small rubber dinghies in a bid to reach Britain from France’s north coast. The perilous nature of these attempts has resulted in tragic outcomes, and the situation has become a significant political concern for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has emphasized his commitment to “stop the boats.”
According to recent statistics from the UK Home Office, over 1,000 individuals have crossed from France to England in January alone, with 276 making the journey on the last Sunday of the month.
A statement released by the British government following the discussions in Paris highlighted the commitment to accelerating the implementation of the March 2023 UK-France Summit agreement. The agreement aims to enhance cooperation and includes plans to deploy crucial aerial surveillance equipment promptly.
“The Home Secretary (Cleverly) and Interior Minister Darmanin welcomed plans to accelerate delivery of the March 2023 UK-France Summit agreement,” the statement noted. “These plans will expedite deployment of key aerial surveillance equipment, ensuring unprecedented levels of coverage to enable French law enforcement to intercept crossing attempts as quickly as possible.”
While the statement did not provide a specific timeline for the deployment, both Cleverly and Darmanin expressed their commitment to strengthening law enforcement collaboration. They also discussed the possibility of convening a meeting of interior ministers from the Calais Group, a coalition of northern European countries, to address migration-related issues.
The joint efforts between the UK and France signify a renewed commitment to tackle the challenges posed by small boat crossings, reflecting the gravity of the situation and the need for swift, collaborative action.