The plane arrived in Lille a week ago, must fly over the English Channel and provide satellite images to help detect departures and fight against smugglers.
The plane of the European border agency Frontex which monitors the Channel to fight against smugglers, after the death of 27 migrants in a shipwreck at the end of November, transmits satellite images to France, which are also of interest to Belgium and the Netherlands. Low, explained his director on Wednesday.
The device, deployed for a week, provides “satellite images to France (…) to be able to detect a few days in advance the preparations for departure and the activities of smugglers or traffickers near the coast”, declared Fabrice Leggeri, during a hearing in the Senate.
Belgium and the Netherlands are also “shown cited” by these images, according to the boss of Frontex.
The main mission of the aircraft remains to “detect departures”, but “if distress situations at sea were observed in real time, the competent authorities informed”, he said.
The device arrived in Lille a week ago for the women deployed over the English Channel, after the fatal sinking of 17 men, seven, two teenagers and a child during an attempted crossing at the end of November.
This drama, the deadliest to have occurred in the Channel, has rekindled tensions between France and the United Kingdom over the fight against crossings of the “Channel” by illegal immigrants, which have developed since 2018.
Smugglers pushed to Belgium and the Netherlands
In addition to the intervention of Frontex, the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin announced the “doubling” of the number of police and gendarmes responsible for combating illegal immigration and the creation of regional offices to try to dismantle the networks of smugglers .
This strengthening of surveillance in Calais and in the north of France risks pushing smugglers towards Belgium and the Netherlands, and perhaps even towards Brittany, estimated Mr. Leggeri.
“The Dutch authorities (…) are starting to observe questionable phenomena with pleasure craft in some Dutch ports”, he reported. “So if things move north, including up to the Netherlands, and we take the right steps, they’re going to move west too, with (…) the Republic of Ireland being able to -be the subject of ferry connections “from Brittany.
“These are scenarios that I cannot rule out,” he concluded.