World Bulletin / News Desk
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France had dismantled nearly 200 human-trafficking networks since the beginning of the year, including around 30 in the northern Calais region where thousands of refugees try to cross to Britain daily.
Cazeneuve told French radio Europe 1 on Wednesday: "We have dismantled a very large number of networks since the start of the year."
"In France, nearly 200 networks have been dismantled and 3,000 individuals were detained. In the Calais region alone, it's around 30 networks involving 700 individuals," he said, adding that any French citizens involved in human trafficking should be "severely punished".
France top cop emphasized that the French-British cooperation against illegal immigration had been reinforced since he met Monday with British Home Secretary Theresa May.
Several French media reported on Wednesday that authorities have detained eight people accused of being involved in a smuggling ring bringing migrants to Britain by rubber boat from the northern port French city of Dunkirk (50 km from Calais).
Reports say that smugglers were charging up to 12,000 euros ($13,100) per person for the trip across the Channel.
The head of the European Union's border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, told the German daily Bild on Wednesday that more than 800,000 people had entered the EU illegally since the beginning of 2015, adding that the influx of migrants in Europe "has not reached its peak".
"The migration situation is an unprecedented situation,” commented Cazeneuve. It needs "two urgent procedures ".
"First, the establishment of control at the external borders of the European Union. Frontex statistics imply that it must be done quickly," Cazeneuve said.
"The second procedure: it is imperative to enhance promptly the means of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees], so that refugees in camps in Lebanon, which I visited last week, Jordan, Turkey, will have enough humanitarian aid, and so that the exodus of those who are persecuted in their country does not continue," Cazeneuve added.