EU plane will monitor Channel coastline for migrants

Officials decide on new measure at meeting in Calais without UK home secretary

Zoe Tidman
Monday 29 November 2021 10:53
<p>A damaged inflatable dinghy is seen on Loon Beach, the day after 27 migrants died when their dinghy deflated as they attempted to cross the English Channel</p>

A damaged inflatable dinghy is seen on Loon Beach, the day after 27 migrants died when their dinghy deflated as they attempted to cross the English Channel

A European Union plane is set to monitor shores for migrants looking to cross the English Channel.

The new measure was announced in the wake of the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose boat sunk last week.

European officials agreed a plane operated by the EU’s Frontex border agency would help countries to monitor their shores at a meeting in Calais, which took place without the UK home secretary.

France had cancelled Priti Patel’s invitation to the weekend talks in reaction to a letter from Boris Johnson to Emmanuel Macron, who accused the UK prime minister of not being “serious” about finding solutions.

On Sunday in Calais, it was decided the EU plane would be deployed to monitor migrant activity from 1 December.

Migration officials also pledged to work together more closely against people-smuggling networks and the trade in inflatable boats.

Ms Patel was understood to be pleased with the decision to dispatch the Frontex plane.

Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, told reporters after the meeting: "We have to prevent lives being lost. We have to prevent chaos coming to our external borders."

At least 27 people, including three children and a pregnant woman, died while trying to cross the English Channel last week in the deadliest single incident since the crisis began.

The first victim has been identified as Maryam Nuri Hamdamin, a young Kurdish woman from Iraq who was hoping to join her fiance in the UK,

Migrants in France told The Independent last week they were still determined to make the crossing to England, even if it put their lives at risk, as they hoped England would give them a safer life.

The UK prime minister rejected pleas last week for the government to provide safe routes for asylum seekers to reach its shores amid the dangers of crossing the Channel by dinghies.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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