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Migrants make Christmas Day bid for Britain as FIVE boats intercepted across UK coast (express, Dec 25, 2018)
“FORTY migrants have been rescued from boats trying to cross the English Channel on Christmas Day.
Five vessels were intercepted by Border Force and French authorities as they made their way towards the Kent coast from France. The Home Office believes “organised criminal gang activity” is behind the illegal migration attempts. A Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning (Tuesday 25 December), and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents.
“The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.
“We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk.”
There has been a surge of illegal migrant boat crossings to England in recent weeks, wth many of those making the perilous crossing claiming they were Iranian.
Nine of the migrants picked up on Christmas Day presented themselves as Iranian.
Eleven Iraqis and one Afghan female were also among the 40 migrants trying to reach England, with two of those saved minors.
One group of eight migrants was found at 2.40am after heading towards Folkestone.
The group received medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.
At 5.50am, Border Force was contacted by Cherbourg MOC with a cutter sent to assist a dinghy in the Channel with eight people on board.
Then at 6.50am, Kent Police Ports Unit alerted Border Force to a dinghy off the coast of Deal with 13 people on board, including one minor.
All received medical assessment with one minor transferred to social services.
A fourth small boat holding two people was located after Border Force was contacted at 9.20am.
Another incident in French waters saw a vessel containing nine migrants returned to France due to engine failure after an incident in the Channel, with all nine migrants in the UK and were transferred for assessment at a Coastguard tent.
The 40 migrants found trying to cross the Channel are all now in the UK.
More than 100 migrants were rescued attempting to cross the Channel in November and December before this week’s surge in attempted crossings.
Criminal gangs are believed to be charging migrants thousands of euros for a place in a boat.
Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, has called on UK and French authorities to crack down on traffickers.
Mr Elphicke tweeted: “The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the World.
“Vital for the UK and French authorities to put a stop to this trafficking operation before there is a tragic incident.””
EU Failed to Spread Its Political Clout in Arab Spring Countries – Report (sputniknews, Dec 25, 2018)
“The Arab Spring began with anti-government protests in Tunisia in late 2010, which then spread to other Middle Eastern and North Africa (MENA) countries, including Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, where either regime change or social unrest took place.
The European Parliament (EP) has expressed concern over the EU’s failure to gain political clout in Arab Spring countries despite hefty financial injections, according to a report by the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
Members of the European Parliament are especially “alarmed about the fact that despite significant political and financial investments, as well as constant political and economic support, the EU was unable to obtain real political and economic influence in the region [the Middle East and North Africa],” the report said.
According to the document, regional states “no longer consider the EP the driving force of radical changes in the designated territory”.
The authors of the report described the Arab Spring as the moment when the ouster of most of the regimes in the region and the beginning of liberal reforms prompted “high hopes and expectations”.
Eight years on, the authors claim, most of these expectations were never realised, which is why it is “extremely important” for the EU to assess how to expand its political influence in the region.
In addition, the report underscored that political and economic stability in Arab countries is of “strategic importance to the EU”.
Separately, the authors singled out the EP’s concern over the emergence of “new political and economic regional players”, such as Russia and China.
The EP’s report specifically dealt with the situation in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
The Arab Spring started with the Tunisian Revolution in late 2010, which was followed by social unrest in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.”
Syria accuses Israel of attacking Damascus
Syrian media claims military intercepted Israeli missiles in attack on Syrian capital.
Qalaat Al Mudiq
#Syria: explosions heard over #Damascus province. Air defenses fired missiles moments ago.
#Pt. #Israel announces activation of its aerial defense system over #Golan to counter an air defense missile (sic) fired from #Syria following Israeli attack.
Israel fires at missile from Syria; IDF jets said to pound Damascus arms depots
No injuries or damage in Israel; Israeli planes said to be behind attack near Syrian capital against
Hezbollah or Iranian depot; Damascus claims to shoot down ‘enemy targets’
Looks like the Kurds might be withdrawing to more secure position, not engaging in defensive manuevers in the face of massed Turkish front.
(This is a Turk-friendly piece, I think.)