The Sun reports that a special flight laid on to deport UK-bound illegal migrants from northern France finally left for Afghanistan last night with just three on board.
This was despite firm promises that the special charter would begin to reduce the hundreds massing in the Calais area as they try to get across the Channel.
Referring to the cloak-and-dagger operation, France’s Immigration Minister Eric Besson said:
“There was a joint flight with the British that left Roissy Airport at around midnight after picking up three Afghan adult men who were escorted back to their country of origin.”
It followed months of legal and diplomatic wrangling, with the French constantly pulling out of the scheme because of protests from humanitarian groups.
Mr Besson said:
“It was a flight specially chartered by Britain.”
He added that it was also carrying an unspecified number of Afghan deportees directly from the UK.
The UK government hoped that France was finally moving to get rid of some of the 2,000 odd migrants currently sleeping rough in the Calais area as they try to get aboard lorries and trains heading to Dover.
Last month police arrested more than 200 mostly Afghan migrants living in a notorious Calais shanty town called ‘The Jungle’.
It was assumed most would be aboard the repatriation flight.
In fact just one former ‘Jungle’ resident was deported, with another coming from a Paris park where he had been sleeping rough. The third man had been picked up on the Italian-French border.
Mr Besson said: “We were scrupulous about respecting the rights of these people.”
He added that all three had lost several appeals against deportation over many months, including one before the European Court of Human Rights.
As well as a guaranteed place on the plane worth around £500, each migrant received a £1,900 cash payment from British and French taxpayers.
Technically there will be nothing to prevent any of the deportees returning to Europe the moment they get to Afghanistan.
The Afghans were flown to Kabul accompanied by police and security guards – believed to be mainly British as French unions have refused to get involved in the scheme.
Despite the tiny numbers involved, French charities have reacted with anger to the flight.
In a joint statement, 30 refugee groups, said:
“France and Great Britain will try, like in the month of November 2008, a joint operation. Afghanistan is a country at war. It’s unacceptable to send back home those who have fled the country looking for protection in Europe.”
Earlier this year, Phil Woolas, Britain’s immigration minister, told MPs that the UK and France were “assessing the feasibility” of repatriation flights as a way of reducing illegal immigration from France.
Source: The Sun
Immigration Matters Comment
This kind of story helps fuel fear and anger among the British public, many of whom feel the Government has no control over our borders.
However, in many respects the UK Border Agency are in a no win situation.
In this case they have ‘deported’ possible illegal immigrants before they even set foot on British soil, and yet the right wing tabloids are still criticising the Government for doing exactly what they have been demanding they do – control the borders and do something about the ‘jungle’ camps in Calais.
On the other hand when they do successfully repatriate an illegal immigrant back to their country (not easy when the person deliberately travels with no documents knowing that their own country will not accept them back without a passport or travel document), they are lambasted by the left.
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