the Touquet accords at the heart of the drama

To analyse. The tragedy which, Wednesday, November 24, led to the drowning deaths in the English Channel of at least 27 migrants, mostly Kurds from Iraq or Iran, is a cruel reminder that thousands of people are trying, risking their lives , to cross this arm of the sea to reach the United Kingdom. What does it matter if the barriers are always more numerous to disfigure Calais (Pas-de-Calais), its port and the area around the Channel Tunnel. It is now on makeshift rubber boats that migrants try to set off for the United Kingdom from the French coast.

This phenomenon says small boats illustrates, in addition to the extreme determination of the people, the failure of the management of the Franco-British border. Faced with ever-increasing numbers of crossings – 26,000 since the start of the year, three times more than in 2020 – the response of the French and British interior ministers is safe. A few days before the tragedy, Gérald Darmanin and Priti Patel announced that they had agreed to “Additional technical solutions” to fight smugglers. They rely on “The use of new technologies” to seal the border. Nowhere does the report of their exchanges address the issue of asylum. “Our structural response is to break the networks of smugglers”, confirms the French Ministry of the Interior.

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Yet, according to a study by the British NGO Refugee Council, 98% of people who made it to the UK by small boat since 2020 have applied for asylum. Due to the countries of origin of the majority of these applicants – Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam, Eritrea, Afghanistan – the chances are great that London will grant them international protection. In 2020 and 2021, the first instance protection rate for Iranians was 67%, 28% for Iraqis, 70% for Sudanese, 88% for Syrians.

The “niet” of the United Kingdom

the small boat has become the main route of entry for asylum seekers into the UK. As it partially replaces other routes that have now dried up (planes, trucks), the demand for asylum remains low in the country. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, if we add up the applications registered in Europe and the United Kingdom in 2020, the latter only received 7% of them with 36,000 applications. , which places him in fifth position. If we relate these requests to the population of the countries, it then falls back to the 17e rank.

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