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BRITAIN has paid France hundreds of millions of pounds to increase border security, with the cash flowing into the pockets of military and security companies, campaigners revealed today.
French authorities have been clearing refugee settlements in Calais over the last two weeks, while the British Border Force began using drones to spot and stop migrant boats from crossing the Channel.
On-the-ground migrant-support groups say that the actions are part of the “increasingly repressive” border-security co-operation between the two nations.
The warning comes in Hunted. Detained. Deported, a report published today by the Care4Calais charity and research and campaign group Stop Wapenhandel.
It details how Britain paid France £315.9 million between 2010 and 2016 “to deter illegal immigration in Calais and the surrounding region,” with most of the money spent on expanding border-security measures and introducing new technology.
The report found that the increase in security has resulted in more violence against — and risks for — refugees.
The move has forced migrants to seek other routes into Britain, including from other harbours in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Along with increased danger and risk of drowning, campaigners warn that it has lead to a further crackdown on migrants in and around Calais with regular police violence.
Several young children were among a significant number of migrants rescued from the Channel in near-freezing conditions yesterday, after dinghies carrying them tried to make the crossing into Dover.
Witnesses reported that some people were carried off on stretchers to ambulances, some checked over by paramedics and others wrapped in blankets after being brought to shore.
Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke was criticised for saying that a “fresh approach” was needed and that migrants should be returned to France regardless of where they were intercepted.
Detention Action director Bella Sankey said: “Turning away asylum seekers on our coastline would do nothing to deter traffickers while further risking the lives of those desperate enough to turn to them.
“The best way of ensuring the security of those seeking sanctuary in the UK is to offer safe and legal routes.”
Stop Wapenhandel researcher Mark Akkerman, who authored the report, said: “British policy regarding Calais follows a pattern that is well known in European policies regarding Africa — paying other countries to stop refugees before they even reach your borders.
“The only beneficiaries of these policies and the millions spent on them are military and security companies providing the equipment for the delusional idea of sealing off the borders.”
The report says that Eamus Cork Solutions (ECS), a private security firm founded by a former policeman from Calais, is among the big winners.
ECS provides “freight-searching, detention and escorting services at Dunkirk and Calais in the British Control Zones,” essentially carrying out core tasks of the British Border Force.
Such privatisation of public-security tasks comes with risks to accountability and democratic control, the report warns.
Care4Calais director Clare Moseley said: “The same policy of increased security and deterrence has been followed for ten years and it has not stopped migrants coming to Calais.
“All that is achieved is further brutalisation of already traumatised people. It’s time for a change.”
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