UK & Turkey in new cooperation to tackle illegal migration crisis

UK & Turkey in new cooperation to tackle illegal migration crisis

The move follows Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick’s visit to Turkey last month, the latest in a number of strategically important international visits to strengthen cooperation on the challenge of tackling illegal migration and disrupting the routes used by smugglers.

This has included visits to Belgium, Tunisia, Italy and Turkey, where he visited the Turkish-Bulgarian Border Check Point at Kapikule – the largest and busiest border crossing point in Europe – and saw first-hand the joint operational work to target organised crime, and the importance of close collaboration between the UK and its international partners on this issue.

This enhanced partnership also follows recent agreements with countries including Bulgaria and Georgia, as well as strengthened partnerships with France and Albania which have resulted in a 90% drop in Albanian small boat arrivals in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period last year, and a 40% increase in the number of illegal crossing attempts prevented by the French last year, compared to the year before.

The deepened partnership between the UK and Turkey includes support by the UK for a new centre based in Turkey to be established by the Turkish National Police, which will act as a new operational “Centre of Excellence” to tackle organised immigration crime. The centre will build on existing collaboration between the law enforcement agencies and increase alignment of UK and Turkish intelligence, allowing operational staff to act more quickly on information.

A new memorandum of understanding will also cover the increase and quicker exchange of customs data, information and intelligence feeds between the UK and Turkish authorities, to further support our joint efforts to disrupt the small boats supply chain.

The 2 countries are also bolstering their resources to pursue these common goals. The centre will strengthen collaboration between NCA and Home Office Intelligence staff based in Turkey and their Turkish counterparts; and the UK will deploy more officers in Turkey to enable collaboration on joint operations to disrupt the criminal gangs who are facilitating illegal journeys.

UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

The export of small boats and boat parts across the continent of Europe in order to facilitate illegal crossings to the UK is a vital element of people smugglers’ tactics. It is estimated that hundreds of small boats and boat parts are transported through Europe each year for this purpose.

This will be supported through strengthened UK-Turkish engagement at a working level including through the next UK-Türkiye Migration Dialogue meeting taking place this autumn in London. Both countries also committed to raise the issue of illegal migration in international platforms.

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