The British and French governments agreed today to "reinforce" cooperation to combat the arrival of immigrants from France to England through the English Channel in precarious inflatable boats allegedly chartered by organized criminals.
UK Interior Minister Sajid Javid spoke by phone with his French counterpart, Christophe Castaner, who on his Twitter account confirmed that they will work together to tackle the crisis unleashed last November.
"In contact with my British counterpart, Sajid Javid, we coordinate to reinforce our action against the illegal transfer of the Stain carried out by certain irregular migrants in small boats putting their lives at risk," wrote the French Minister of the Interior.
Javid thanked the collaboration of France through the social network and indicated that both countries will join forces to stop illegal immigration "protecting our borders and human lives".
Accused of inaction by the opposition, the British minister has been forced to shorten his Christmas holidays and returns tomorrow to his office to face the "serious matter" of the arrival on the English coast of immigrants supposedly coming from French refugee camps.
Since last November, more than 220 people, mostly Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians and Afghans, have been captured by the authorities after arriving in small boats to various places in southeast England.
Today, six Iranians have been apprehended on a beach in Kent County, after another twelve people were captured in Dover on Thursday and nine on Thursday, including three children, in the town of Sandgate.
Javid said last night that the situation "is serious" but noted that "there is no easy solution", and stressed the need to balance the protection of vulnerable people with the security of the borders.
The spokeswoman for the Labor Party, Diane Abbott, accused him today on the public broadcaster BBC of offering "a slow response" and "defective", while the conservative deputy Rehman Chishti of the House of Commons Interior Committee , lamented "the lack of leadership" in the Government.
An investigation by the BBC has revealed that organized groups of criminals try to attract immigrants in French camps to cross the channel in their boats with the argument that the borders will close after the "Brexit" or British exit from the European Union.
A spokeswoman for the British Union of Immigration Services, Lucy Moreton, today criticized the "insufficient" resources available to border agents and questioned the measures taken on the French side.
"They tell us that the people who offer these trips do it in an obvious way, they move through the fields, they are in the cafeterias in those areas of Calais," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today program.
Chris Hogben, head of the Invigor project against organized crime led by the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom, said that "significant resources" have been allocated to help the French authorities combat the activity of traffickers.
Hogben revealed that he has managed to thwart "dozens" of possible trips and has "arrested and accused" three suspects.
The non-governmental organization Detention Action, which defends immigrants detained on British soil, said that if people take the risk to get to England it is because the government "does not provide legal and safe routes" to apply for asylum.
"Instead of blaming only the criminal gangs, Sajid Javid should take a step forward and offer a safe passage for people in difficulty if he wants to avoid more human tragedies," he said in a statement.
By Judith Mora