According to an expert, the two countries' recent agreement on migrants will be a boon to people smugglers, allowing them to significantly increase their tariffs. The number of migrant camps and refugees trying to cross the sea in dinghies is constantly growing. In less than a year over 8,000 people have embarked on the perilous journey.
Migrants pose a growing problem for both France and the UK. To tackle it, the two countries signed an agreement over the weekend on patrolling French coasts with drones and radars from 1 December. The deal was necessary because an increasing number of migrants has recently tried to cross the English Channel on their way to the UK. The BBC writes that over 8,000 people have attempted the journey so far this year, seven of whom have paid with their lives. According to France Info, France decided to implement the new system for a trial period of six months to determine its efficiency.
In an interview with the France Info news portal, migration expert Francois Gemenne stressed that the measure by the French and British authorities would be a boon for people smugglers, as it would steer refugees towards their services. So far most migrants have attempted to cross the Channel on their own, usually by dinghies or other small boats, but a tightening of the rules by the authorities would likely lead migrants to choose the people smugglers' services and result in price hikes.
Des drones et des radars pour empêcher les traversées de la Manche par les migrants ? Un mystérieux 'spécialiste des migrations' estime au contraire qu'il s'agit d'une aubaine pour les passeurs... https://t.co/5X8bXl4Gif]— François Gemenne (@Gemenne) November 30, 2020
According to Gemenne, England should stop delegating to France the task of monitoring its borders, and it should put in place a real, well-functioning system that enables the country to receive refugees and select those entitled to stay in England. The expert says that the coronavirus has also contributed to the growing number of migrants who try to reach England via the sea. Most migrants use boats, but some have even tried to swim across the Channel. Since freight services via the Channel Tunnel stopped, refugees were left with no other option than the sea route. The number of migrants trying to get to England from France has not changed, but as car transport has waned, more attempts are made by sea.
Francois Gemenne lists several reasons why migrants aim to enter England from France. One factor is language skills, as migrants are more likely to speak English than French. In additon, many of them already have an acquaintance or relative in England, making it easier for newcomers to settle. The flexibility of the UK labour market and the possibility of undeclared work are not negligible factors, either.
However, France continues to host a large number of migrants. According to the conservative French weekly Valeurs actuelles, between 1 January and 26 November authorities have eliminated 867 migrant camps in Calais alone, and arrested 298 refugees during raids.
Immigrants pose a problem not only in this region, but also in other oarts of France that have a large migrant population. On the outskirts of Paris, police evacuated one of the country's largest camps in mid-November. 2,500 refugees were transported to reception centres, but a few days later, several hundred of these migrants set up tents on Place de la Republique, in the heart of Paris.
Après l'évacuation du camp de #migrants de Saint-Denis la semaine dernière, c'est sur la place de la #République à #Paris qu'ont été installées des dizaines de tentes. Le message de plusieurs associations alors que de nombreux migrants et #réfugiés restent encore à la rue. pic.twitter.com/eYsjlNUL45— Thibault Izoret (@TIM_7375) November 23, 2020
After the evactuation the officers who removed the tents have become the target of strong criticism. Subsequently, however, it turned out that a pro-migration NGO called Utopia 56 - the organiser of the protest - had knowingly manipulated public opinion by pre-arranging every aspect of the protest, including sending out invitions to lawyers and activists to join their demonstration.
A migrant rescue NGO has invited lawyers, journalists and activists to join a protest with the aim of carefully documenting the authorities' response....