Channel migrants set to be flown to Albania as French snub deal with UK to stop crossings

Kevin Saunders: France could do more to help the migrant crisis

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This comes after France publicly snubbed a deal with the UK to stop the crossings from taking place. Home Secretary Priti Patel claimed she had agreed a deal with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin agreed to work to prevent “100 percent of crossings”.

But the French embassy in London rejected the figure, saying it was not “agreed”.

The number of migrant crossings from France to England reached a record high last week, with at least 1,185 crossing on one day.

Meanwhile, the annual figure has more than doubled.

On Twitter, the French embassy wrote: “For the record, the 100 percent figure was not agreed between the Home Secretary and French interior minister @GDarmanin and should not be presented as an agreed commitment: it is not.”

“And it is not part of the joint statement.”

The two countries had issued a joint statement, which said: “Both the Home Secretary and interior minister agreed to strengthen operational cooperation further.

“More must be done to stop the dangerous crossings.

“They agreed to accelerate the delivery of the commitments made in the joint agreement of July 2021 to deliver on their joint determination to prevent 100 percent of crossings and make this deadly route unviable.”

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This came after Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin held talks on Monday, following a long-running row between the countries over how the problem should be tackled.

Speaking to CNews, Mr Darmanin said: “I will remind my British counterpart that the NGOs who prevent the police and gendarmerie from working, are largely British NGOs with British citizens who are on French soil and are carrying out agitprop (agitation and propaganda).

“The people smugglers, who organise the networks and exploit women and children… are very often in Britain.”

The plan to process asylum seekers in Albania is part of an attempt to deter migrants from crossing from Northern France.

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Anyone seeking asylum in Britain after arriving by “illegal routes”, such as in dinghies and small boats, would be flown out to the centre within a week of arrival, the Times reported.

However, the project would cost the taxpayer £100,000 per migrant, for flights and accommodation.

Speaking to the Times, one unnamed minister said: “Offshore processing is our best hope now, as nothing else is working.”

Ms Patel’s asylum plan, which involves classifying migrants who have crossed over in small boats and dinghies, has been criticised by the UNHCR.

She said the changes would “undermine, not promote, the Government’s stated goal of improving protection for those at risk of persecution”.

She added: “It seems to be aimed at deterring refugees, but there’s no evidence that would be the result.

“Those arriving irregularly will be stigmatised as unworthy and unwelcome, kept in a precarious status for ten years, denied access to public funds unless destitute. Family reunion will be restricted.”

The Government has previously floated plans for processing refugees in disused oil rigs in the North Sea.

A Westminster source has said that the likelihood of securing a deal with Albania are now “looking good”, despite Albanian foreign minister Olta Xhacka rubbishing the idea last month.

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