UK,France to stop refugee smugglers in joint operation

Britain and France agree to strengthen ties in order to crack down on people smuggling networks and stop undocumented migration

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Refugees walk past rundown tents in the "New Jungle" camp in Calais, northern France, October 15, 2015.

French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve and his counterpart Theresa May on Monday signed an agreement to increase cross-border cooperation in law enforcement during a meeting in London. 

The two countries will tighten security measures to dismantle people smuggling networks and stop the flow of refugees crossing borders without registration.

"It's an agreement which reinforces cooperation between our police services, our intelligence services, and which also aims to ultimately increase judicial cooperation between our two countries in the fight against illegal immigration and smuggling networks," Cazeneuve said during a press conference.

Since the beginning of 2015, about 26 refugee smuggling networks have been broken up in Calais, said Cazeneuve. In comparison to the 14 networks dismantled in 2014.

Cazeneuve also announced that more British officers will be stationed at the port city of Calais in northern France.

"Since October 25, British authorities have indicated to us that not one more migrant should cross into England," he said.

Recently, a former soldier from Leeds - known as the third largest city in the United Kingdom - is facing up to 5 years in a French jail and a fine of £21,400 ($33,029) for attempting to smuggle a 4 year old girl from the "Jungle camp" near Calais.

The ex-soldier identified as Rob Lawrie said he committed a "crime of compassion," as he was asked to take 4 year old Bahar Ahmadi to Britain to live with her relatives who were already living in the country legally. 

“I just couldn’t leave Bahar to spend one more night in that horrendous place. And when you have seen what I have seen [in the Jungle] all rational thought goes out of your head” said Lawrie.

Rob has now been bailed and is to appear in court in Boulogne-sur-Mer on 14 January. 

"I am a 49-year-old ex-soldier. I can handle what life throws at me. My concern is for Bahar, and children like her," he added. 

Over the recent months, Calais has attracted thousands of refugees who have escaped from war zones and poverty.

There are currently about 6,000 refugees living in poor conditions at rundown camps positioned across England. 

Iraqi refugee Jamal seen carrying food as he walks in a muddy footpath in the "New Jungle" refugee camp in Calais, northern France, October 16, 2015. [Reuters Archive]

A French court in Lille in northern France on Monday ordered the department of Pas-de-Calais and the town of Calais to improve the conditions at the neglected giant "new jungle" refugee camp in Calais.

The order came after Doctors of the World and Catholic Relief Services, as well as other NGOs, appealed to the court to "end serious human rights violations" of refugees living in overpopulated and ramshackle encampments. 

Authorities at Calais have been ordered to install 10 more water stations which are fitted with 5 taps each around the campsite, 50 latrines and “one or several” more access points to emergency services. 

In addition, the French court has ordered for garbage collection sites to be installed and general cleaning services to take place across the camp, as refugees are forced to live alongside rubbish as they have no location to dispose of their garbage. 

Calais has been given 8 days to implement the new measures and a 100 euro ($110) fine will be imposed on the city for each day there is a delay.

TRTWorld and agencies