Priti Patel: ‘No quick fix’ to migrant crisis

·3-min read
Priti Patel: ‘No quick fix’ to migrant crisis

The Home Secretary said on Thursday there is “no quick fix” to the migrant crisis following the deaths of 27 people in the Channel.

Ms Patel made a statement to MPs after the tragic drownings of three children, seven women, including a pregnant woman, and 17 men on Wednesday.

She said the government was working with other countries to “dismantle organised criminal” gangs responsible for trafficking people into the UK.

“What happened yesterday was a dreadful shock, it was not a surprise but it is also a reminder of how vulnerable people are put at peril when in the hands of criminal gangs,” she said in the Commons.

“There is also no quick fix. This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat human beings as cargo and tackling supply chains.”

Five suspected members of a people smuggling gang that allegedly arranged the crossing have been arrested.

French prosecutors are carrying out the criminal probe into the deaths and Britain has offered support to boost patrols on French beaches to stop boats being launched.

Ms Patel said: “I’ve just spoken again with my French counterpart Minister Darmanin and I’ve once again reached out and made my offer very clear to France in terms of joint France and UK co-operation, joint patrols to prevent these dangerous journeys from taking place.

“I’ve offered to work with France to put officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats.”

Ms Patel said there is a “global illegal migration crisis” and that the “journeys across the Channel are absolutely unnecessary”.

She emphasised the need for the UK to work with other countries to tackle the small boats crisis and said more than 20,000 have been stopped this year.

“We have dismantled 17 organised criminal groups and secured over 400 arrests and 65 convictions,” she said.

“But this crisis continues, clearly demonstrating we need to do more together. This is a complicated issue and there is no simple fix.”

She also urged MPs to support the Nationality and Borders Bill, saying: “As we mourn those who have died in the most horrendous of circumstances, I hope that the whole House can come together to send a clear message that crossing the Channel in this lethal way in a small boat is not the way to come to our country.”

However the Bill has been criticised by some opposition MPs and charity bosses.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, said: “The UK’s failure to play its part in providing protection to people who are fleeing conflict and persecution is even more distressing at a time when the Home Office is trying to push through its draconian Nationality and Borders Bill. This new policy will further exacerbate the asylum system and continue to punish and exclude people seeking safety.

“If the Government is truly concerned with tackling these gangs and their abuse of people, they must set up safe asylum routes, so people no longer need to depend on smugglers.”

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