Top European migration officials hold emergency meeting after Channel deaths

Top European migration officials held an emergency meeting on Sunday after 27 migrants died on an overcrowded, inflatable boat that sank in the English Channel last week.

The officials met in the French port of Calais, where they decided that the European Union’s border agency would send out a plane to observe the shores of the English Channel for any migrant activity, according to The Associated Press.

The plane, which is being deployed on Dec. 1, will be controlled by the European Union border agency Frontex and will assist France, Belgium and the Netherlands in their efforts to monitor the shore and detect smuggling activity, the AP reported, citing French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

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The European officials also vowed to collaborate on combatting migrant smuggling networks and the trade in inflatable boats, which are increasingly being used by migrants fleeing conflict or poverty in Afghanistan, Sudan or other nations, the AP reported.

The fatal incident last week marked the deadliest migration accident on record on the English Channel, according to the AP.

France and Britain last week agreed to do more to stop migrants from making dangerous treks through the English Channel following the deadly sinking.

They agreed that France would utilize patrols and surveillance to decrease the number of people traversing the English Channel, which would be paid for by Britain.

Officials from the United Kingdom, however, were not present at Sunday’s meeting, according to the AP. The two sides have reportedly accused one another of not contributing enough to the effort to stop people from moving through the Channel.

Additionally, countries throughout the EU have reportedly clashed for some time about how to manage migration.

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“We have to prevent lives being lost. We have to prevent chaos coming to our external borders,” European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told reporters after the meeting, according to the AP.

She also said more intelligence needs to be shared, and called on governments to “go after the money.”

Ministers from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium also participated in the meeting, according to the AP. Individuals who attended the huddle underscored the importance of working with the U.K., which officially left the E.U. last year. 

“This meeting was not anti-English. It was pro-European,” Darmanin said, according to the AP. “We want to work with our British friends and allies.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “unfortunate” that she did not receive an invitation to the meeting.