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Refugee Council criticises France-UK deal on immigration

DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 23: Migrants are brought ashore by a RNLI lifeboat in Dover, UK on May 23, 2022. A small group of migrants, including young children, arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in calm weather conditions. The British Border Force officers carried the children off the boat as the migrants were escorted into the port to be processed. ( Stuart Brock - Anadolu Agency )
Migrants are brought ashore by a RNLI lifeboat in Dover, UK on May 23, 2022 [Stuart Brock - Anadolu Agency]

The Refugee Council has said that the government's Channel deal with France fails to address the factors which lead men and women to take dangerous journeys to reach the UK.

"A deal is needed that focuses on creating more safe routes such as family reunion and working with the EU and other countries to find global solutions to share responsibility for what is a global challenge as more people are displaced by war, terror and violence," the council said on Twitter.

Their comments come as Britain and France sign a new deal to accelerate efforts to stop refugees crossing the English Channel.

As part of the deal UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman signed during a trip to Paris, more French officers and volunteers will patrol beaches and the two countries will establish a joint control centre.

The UK will pay France £63 million ($74 million)  in 2022 to 2023, up from £54.8 million($64.5 million) in 2021 to 2022. The extra money will also pay for drones, night vision equipment, increased CCTV and detection dog teams to search lorries for refugees.

So far this year some 40,885 people have crossed the English Channel in small boats, compared to 28,526 people last year. On Saturday, 972 people made the crossing.

Many are from Albania, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

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A government statement said that a new task force had been set up to reverse "the recent rise in Albanian nationals and organised crime groups exploiting illegal migration routes into Western Europe and the UK."

Last week, thousands of Albanians protested in London against Braverman, who said that Albanians arriving in the UK were not genuine asylum seekers.

In October, Braverman was slated after she said it was her "dream" and "obsession" to be on the front page of the Telegraph with a plane full of refugees who have arrived in the UK taking off to Rwanda.

Braverman has said that better technology and drones could improve surveillance for French authorities, but that "it doesn't stop the problem, it just delays it."

Specialists have said that whilst the number of asylum claims have stayed roughly the same, delays in processing applications have risen.

The Refugee Council has said that the government should be doing more to create a "fair and functioning" asylum system after releasing figures which revealed an asylum backlog crisis which left people in the system in limbo for years.

According to the council's figures the asylum backlog has quadrupled in five years and that 40,913 people – a third of all people – have been waiting for between one and three years for an initial decision on their asylum claim.

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