UK announces deal with Turkey to tackle flow of illegal migrants

Migrants are seen on a dinghy following a failed attempt to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos, as a Turkish Coast Guard boat aproaches them, on the waters of the North Aegean Sea, off the shores of Canakkale, Turkey, March 6, 2020. Photographer Umit Bektas

By Reuters

Britain said it had struck a deal with Turkey in a bid to slow the flow of illegal immigrants passing through the Mediterranean country on their way to Europe, including joint police operations against smuggler rings and the trade in boat parts.

Customs data would be exchanged more quickly under the new memorandum of understanding, the British government said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Our partnership with Turkey, a close friend and ally, will enable our law enforcement agencies to work together on this international problem and tackle the small boat supply chain,” interior minister Suella Braverman said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made cutting the numbers of illegal migrants arriving in Britain a key pledge for this year as he tried to narrow the wide lead of the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.

This week, Britain began moving some migrants on to a large residential barge on its southern coast, part of plans remove what the government called the “pull” of hotels for those arriving on the country’s shores in small boats.

With the issue of illegal migration high on the political agenda in Britain ahead of an expected election next year, the government said it would support a new Turkish police centre that would build on existing cooperation over law enforcement.