New British-French deal to fight “vile people smuggling“

Migrants walk along a fence outside the Eurotunnel area, in Calais, northern France, in a Wednesday, July 29, 2015 file photo. (AP)
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Updated 12 July 2020

New British-French deal to fight “vile people smuggling“

  • People smuggling across the Channel and migrant camps regularly spring up along France’s northern coast have proven to be an intractable problem for both govts

PARIS: France and Britain signed an agreement Sunday to share intelligence in their joint fight against the human traffickers who are illegally smuggling migrants across the English Channel.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the deal to set up a French-British intelligence unit would allow for better exchanges of information about smuggling networks.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel said the new unit “will crack down on gangs behind vile people smuggling.” Patel crossed the Channel to visit the northern French city of Calais to sign the deal with Darmanin. She described levels of illegal migration across the waterway as “unsustainable.” Crossing attempts have been surging.
“Despite all of the action taken by law enforcement to date — intercepting the boats, making arrests, returning people to France and putting the criminals responsible behind bars — the numbers continue to increase,” Patel said. “This simply cannot be allowed to go on.”
People smuggling across the Channel and migrant camps that regularly spring up along France’s northern coast have proven to be an intractable problem for both governments. Britain’s previously strong economy and need for farm and restaurant labor drew migrants from around the world who could speak some English. Calais over the years has unwillingly hosted rudimentary, overcrowded migrant camps that sprung up, slums so poor and violent that one was dubbed “the Jungle.”
The new unit will be staffed both by French and British officers and will exploit intelligence to help prevent crossings and dismantle smuggling gangs. Patel described it as “the start of a new operational approach.”
Darmanin said he pressed Patel for additional British help, including officers and equipment, to root out smugglers “who profit from the human misery of the people who want to cross the Channel and who are not punished enough.”
“It’s very important that our British friends realize that if the migrants come here in Calais, it’s not for the beauty of the city but it’s to cross the Channel,” he said. “The British government did a lot to protect the French coast, but we need more.”

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India moves Kashmiri village leaders to safety after wave of attacks

Updated 1 min 12 sec ago

India moves Kashmiri village leaders to safety after wave of attacks

  • Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians
  • Two security officials said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday

SRINAGAR: India has shifted scores of village and municipality leaders, mostly from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, to secure locations in Kashmir after a spate of militant attacks, police and two security officials said on Friday.
Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians, many of whom do not have personal security guards, in recent weeks.
“It is a temporary arrangement,” Kashmir valley’s police chief Vijay Kumar told Reuters. “We will devise a strategy to provide security to those who are vulnerable.”
Two security officials, asking not to be named, said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday, after militants shot dead a village council leader from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in southern Kashmir.
Many of those under protection have been housed in hotels and government buildings guarded by paramilitary troops, one official said. “We don’t want to take any chances,” he said.
Sofi Yousuf, a BJP vice president in Kashmir, said that his colleagues were being targeted to prevent the party from expanding in the Himalayan region, where insurgents have waged war against New Delhi since the late 1980s.
“They want to create a fear psychosis on the ground,” Yousuf said.
The federal government has been trying to promote political activities since it revoked Kashmir’s special status in an attempt to draw it closer to the rest of the country.
But the loss of special privileges stoked anger across the region and this week authorities imposed a strict lockdown on the first anniversary of that decision.
Underlining the difficulties the government faces in restoring normalcy to Kashmir, around a dozen BJP members resigned from the party this week, fearing militant attacks.