Sadly, the political situation on both sides of the channel may make for front-page headlines but creates little space for impactful problem-solving.
“The bilateral tensions you see are more or less the aftermath of Brexit,” French political commentator Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet told me. “And the refugees are the main victims.”
Now that the UK has left the EU, however, the regulation no longer applies. Both Johnson and Macron now want to look like they came out on top after Brexit, all while avoiding being brought down by the third rail issue of immigration at home.
Crushing the smugglers
Even at the best of times, the French and British response appears to be little more than an amateur cat-and-mouse game with the human traffickers.
Malarek said more resources should be allocated to fight smuggling. “And when you catch smugglers you have to bring the hammer down on them,” he told me, adding that the traffickers involved in the crossing on Wednesday should be held accountable for the 27 migrants who died.
On the positive side, the crisis has generated new discussion on how to address the so-called push factors that motivate people to flee desperate conditions. More frequent and intense climate events and conflicts will only place more people in the smugglers’ dangerous networks.
“The reality is that desperate people will do desperate things,” Malarek said.
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