06:01 GMT06 July 2020
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    The UK is funding drone surveillance off the coast of France in a bid to deter migrants from attempting to cross the English Channel. This is what the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner revealed on Friday.

    Radio Sputnik has discussed the development with Paolo Salom, political observer with Corriere della Sera.

    Sputnik: The UK is committed to pay for surveillance drones to fight against irregular sea departures and is also sending naval vessels for this very purpose. How effective could this uptick in security prove to be in deterring illegal newcomers?

    Paolo Salom: The British are not so keen on talking about the use of these drones because of what happened in Manchester a few weeks ago. But I'm sure this might be effective because if you can view small parts of territory with drones you can very easily detect people who are trying to cross this little stretch of water which is the Channel, the English Channel. The problem is different I think. The problem is what's happening. Why now? And what can they do to stop this surge in illegal immigration? I think the answers are not so easy to find.

    Sputnik: Well, I think you're actually asking the most pertinent question, why has there been an increase now? I think 500 individuals have tried to access the UK via the English Channel. Perhaps you could just elaborate a little bit, do you think it's an influx of more people traffickers or do you think there's an uptake in this and these individual groups and people wanting to utilize the potential of these illegal immigrants getting to the UK to increase their income, it's very profitable this, isn't it?

    Paolo Salom: Of course. Well, first let's talk about numbers. If you compare British numbers to what we Italians had to face in the last five years you can easily understand that the number is not so great. Five-hundred people, more or less, from November, is not a huge amount of people but, of course, this is only the beginning. Maybe the future will be different. And why? Why so? First of all, I think that what's happening in the Mediterranean has changed the pattern because of the stricter controls that are effective now in the southern part of Italy and places facing the North African coast.

    READ MORE: France Takes 16 Migrants From Boat Attempting to Cross English Channel — Reports

    There the crossing of this bigger stretch of sea is quite difficult. It's not easy. It's not so easy to do if they're on the other side of the sea; there are countries ready to expel everyone, and that's what's happening now. So the traffickers, and here we come to the part of why Great Britain; they are always looking for new shores where to send the people they are paid by to do this job and, of course, now you find that Great Britain, which in the few days will face probably the Brexit, well that's a soft point in their point of view in the sense that countries that cooperate in the Schengen system share all the data about people who go in.

    Great Britain is not part of Schengen, but it had single treaties that allowed it to share this information too, but what will happen afterwards this we cannot know for sure. Now they're saying they're cooperating with France but will it be the same after the Brexit, soft Brexit or hard Brexit we still don't know. So probably the traffickers are taking advantage of this unusual situation.

    Sputnik: What is it in particular that they are trying to achieve in terms of migration to the United Kingdom? Is it the fact that the UK has such a generous social security system to illegal immigrants or is there other elements to it?

    Paolo Salom: From what I know, the majority of these immigrants, the ones we're speaking about are from Iran. So are they political migrants or economic migrants? I think the second might be the case. I think most of them are just economic migrants; people who are looking for a better way of life, for better wages, for better work and possibly they're also well educated, and another reason maybe they already know English as a second language.

    READ MORE: UK Ex-Immigration Chief Calls for Action on Migrants Crossing English Channel

    In this situation and knowing that other countries are in a different mood towards foreign migrants maybe Great Britain just seems to them the best place where to go. And considering also that Great Britain will no longer be with Europe and in the future maybe the relationship with the United States will be stricter well, maybe Great Britain is just a stop on a far longer journey across the Atlantic.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Paolo Salom and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    human traffickers, drones, English Channel, United Kingdom, France
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