Only five Channel migrants returned to Europe this year as minister admits ‘difficulties’

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Najr Zangana admits better record in countries other than France and Italy has been hindered by delays

Only five Channel migrants returned to Europe this year as minister admits ‘difficulties’

Only five people have been returned to Europe this year from the Jungle camp in France, but the immigration minister has admitted problems with the returns.

Only five people were returned in 2016, when more than 3,000 were moved from the southern French port of Calais to reception centres across France or sent back to other parts of Europe, the minister, Najr Zangana, said.

The French government announced on Saturday that it would take legal action to stop the private security firm G4S from evicting people from the makeshift “jungle” camp. More than 1,000 have now left the site after security forces moved in on Thursday night to clear the homeless population.

Zangana said there were difficulties with the return of migrants to Italy and Spain because of obstacles like administrative problems and administrative procedures. “This may have to do with the programme of returns from Calais that we launched last year,” he said.

The number of people caught attempting to illegally enter Europe by crossing the Mediterranean remains at record levels. More than 1,300 have died or gone missing during this year’s perilous journey.

Zangana, who met the French interior minister, Gerard Collomb, and the president of the interior ministry, Gerard Collomb, on Saturday night, said the programme to return migrants to the countries they entered illegally was “a priority for both of us, especially given what we’ve had to face this year”.

In the UK, the government will spend more than £44m in 2017 to support the voluntary and community-based efforts of both the British Red Cross and NGOs to help the most vulnerable migrants who travel across the Mediterranean Sea.

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