21 detained in operation against people smugglers and transit migrants

21 people were detained in a police operation at a parking facility along the E17 motorway at Kruibeke in East Flanders on Tuesday night. Most of those were detained in what was a coordinated operation between the local and federal police services against transit migrants and people smugglers are Eritreans. The Judicial Authorities were present at the operation as were the Interior Minister Jan Jambon (Flemish nationalist) and a camera crew and reporter from the British public broadcaster BBC.      

Last week there was a shooting as tempers flared between groups of transit migrants at the car park along the E40 motorway at Jabbeke in West Flanders. Two people were injured and it was decided to close the car park at night for a period of three months. The transit migrants are en route to the UK where the hope to start a new life as illegal immigrants.   

There have already been several attempts to resolve the issue of transit migrants hanging around parking facilities where they hope to break into the trailers of lorries bound for the UK that are parked up there.   

Often the migrants are detained, but later released by the aliens’ office as they come from countries not considered safe enough to send them back to such as Eritrea or Iran. Once released they continue their efforts to get to the UK. This situation causes frustration among police officers on the ground.

However, the Interior Minister Jan Jambon told VRT News that “Police officers understand that it isn’t about the transit migrants, but about the network of people smugglers that are behind this”.    

Difficult to find a lasting solution

Finding a lasting solution to the issue of transit migrants and people smugglers won’t be easy. The Chief Commissioner of the Temse-Kruibeke Local Police Service Wim Pieteraerens told VRT News that “I’m not going to be able to solve and maybe our country won’t be able to solve it either. We should look at Great Britain, because the solution comes needs to come from there. Britain remains too attractive for transit migrants”.   

However, the BBC team that was present at the operation told the VRT that the British don’t consider the issue to be all that serious as “only a few hundred people are involved”.  

Mr Jambon also believes that any solution will need to come from the British. "As long as people that aren’t even in the UK legally are able to work in the bona fide economy the pressure to get there will remain great”, Mr Jambon said.