So far this year around 17,000 migrants have crossed the Channel from France to the UK illegally in small boats. This is twice the number that did so last year. The migrant issue is a source of friction between the UK and France. The UK Government accuses the French of not doing enough to stop the migrants. Now, in turn, the French are pointing the finger at Belgium.
On Saturday the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin visited Calais and Dunkirk. After his visit he announced that extra checks will be carried out on his country’s border with Belgium. Later in a TV interview he pointed the figure at Belgium.
“On the border with Belgium we have seen that the migrants are coming from there. 50% of the migrants that arrive in Nord-Pas de Calais come via Belgium. We need to adapt our approach and increase checks at the border”, Mr Darmanin said.
Border checks will be increased along the whole of the Nord Department’s border with Belgium, from the coast to just south of the city of Valenciennes.
The French Interior Minister went on to say that the French police have redoubled their efforts to catch people smugglers and that 180 of them were apprehended in September alone. He called on Belgium to do the same.
In a reaction the Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden told VRT News that “I don’t think that countries gain anything by pointing the finger of blame to each other or by looking for a guilty party”.