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tv   Our World The Battle for the...  BBC News  October 17, 2021 3:30am-4:01am BST

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been put on a watchlist of subjects of interest to the security services. russia has recorded more than 1,000 deaths from coronavirus in a single day, for the first time since the start of the pandemic. the infection rate has also continued to soar as the authorities struggle to persuade people to get vaccinated. and tens of thousands of italians have marched through the centre of rome, calling for a ban on the neo—fascist forza nuova party. its leaders were among those arrested after the headquarters of the nation's oldest trade union was stormed in a riot a week ago. well, staying with that story... tens of thousands of italians have demonstrated in rome to call for a ban on the neo—fascist forza nuova party over its involvement in a riot last weekend. protesters carried placards saying "fascism, never again," in reference to the dictator
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benito mussolini, who ruled italy before and during the second world war. lucy grey has this report. balloons and trade union flags filled rome's piazza san giovanni as tens of thousands of italians called for a ban on the neofascist forza nuova party. "yes to vaccination", and "peace", said the placards — a direct response to this one week earlier. right—wing forza nuova supporters angry at the government's coronavirus measures, clashing with police at the headquarters of italy's largest trade union, which was attacked. 12 people, including the leaders of forza nuova, were arrested. they had been protesting against the so—called green pass, which makes everyone prove on arrival at work that they are fully vaccinated, have recovered from the virus, or have a recent negative test. for those without one, you can be fined or suspended without pay. unions have come together to call on the government to dissolve neofascist or neo—nazi groups.
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translation: a union that defends our rights i was attacked. this is an attack on democracy. translation: we came | from belgium to show our solidarity, this is an international problem. the normalisation of far right powers — we have to fight it. italy has had 4.7 million cases of coronavirus, with more than 130,000 deaths. it is estimated around 3 million workers still have not been vaccinated. lucy grey, bbc news. now on bbc news, it's time for our world: the battle for the channel. it's a game of cat and mouse played in a ribbon of sea between britain and france that pits people smugglers against police patrols and governments against each other.
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we have offered to the french many times for us to deploy british officers onto the beaches — it's not something they feel that they need. where migrants are packed into flimsy, inflatable boats and sent off into the sea. record numbers of migrants are now reaching british shores this way, and the smugglers are always one step ahead. so who's winning the battle in the channel? we're out on patrol to ask why two of the world's richest and most powerful countries can't stop migrants crossing 20 miles of sea. it's four o'clock in the morning, and we're out on patrol with general frantz tavart and his team of gendarmes.
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he runs a constant patrol of a0 active gendarmes and 90 reservists, paid for by the uk. together with the police, they patrol almost 90 miles of coastline around calais.
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this area is known as a goldmine for migrants, but tonight, the beaches are empty. it's a sign, says general tavart, that the french patrols are working.
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the smugglers may be moving away from calais, but the number of migrants reaching britain from northern france has more than doubled this year. geography is on the smugglers�* side — how do you police a long, snaking coastline, covered with trees, dunes, and hundreds of bunkers left over from world war ii? this is the kind of terrain that the patrols here have to police every night. the sand is so fine your boots sink into it. sometimes there isn't even the moon for light. we check one popular hiding place, but the migrants have gone.
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they often leave in a hurry. clothes, nappies, even lifejackets — these are the things you leave behind. as dawn approaches, general tavart gets a call — something's happened further down the coast. police have caught a group of migrants in inflatable boat. by the time they reach them, the boat is in the water. this, smugglers tell their clients, is when you're safe from the french police. but tonight, the gendarmes wade into the sea and begin to pull the boat back. it's packed with people. it doesn't take long for one man to realise the game is up andjump out.
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he helps drag the boat back to shore. everyone on board is likely to have paid between one and 3000 euros for the passage. it's late in the season, when fares are cheaper, and poorer migrants tend to travel. not everyone on board seems to have a life jacket. 0ne kicks at the water as he goes. the officer filming says he can hear a baby crying. seconds later, the baby appears, in a bobble hat to dull the cold of the channel crossing. the boat, thought to have been custom—made, is confiscated. the migrants themselves walk away, back to their camps, to try again. that night, french patrols stopped almost 200 migrants from crossing the channel, but three times as many people did make it to the uk. so what would it take to stop them? we've come to the eurotunnel
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site at coquelles to find out. and again you can see there's another layer of fencing here. this is the third skin of preventative fencing. calais has been drawing migrants for decades, but until 2018, almost none of them tried to cross the channel in small boats. instead, they used to jump on trucks bound for the ferry port, or come here, to the channel tunnel entrance, to hide on trains bound for the uk. hundreds of migrants used to try and break into the tunnel each day. they don't anymore. the problem's not fixed. the problem's contained as far as our terminal is concerned. and that's been done by basically building a — a perimeterfence around the terminal and adding surveillance cameras,
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motion detectors, infrared, using drones. we've now got over 600 different video surveillance points around the site, and 37km of fencing — high—security fencing around the site, and regular security patrols, and we're working in cooperation with the authorities — police on both sides of the channel. so there's a whole structure, both physical and intelligence—based, that operates to protect this small site. it costs the uk government £65 million to secure the eurotunnel site — that's about £26 million per square mile. it worked. migrants and smugglers shifted to small boats. but doing the same along 100 miles of coastline is virtually impossible.
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forested dunes complicate video surveillance, and you can't put a fence around france. david, a migrant himself, has sometimes worked for the people smugglers here. he had hoped to earn a place on one of their boats, but says it never happened. "they're greedy," he says, "and there are plenty of passengers who will pay." he's brought me here to show me one of their hiding places. this is where they bring people before they put them in the boat — an old makeshift shelter. above is a field of cows. and david isjust going to show me inside where they store the equipment. it's pretty dark in here. scattered inside is the debris left by previous groups. and, hidden in the floor, undera rock, a dinghy, wrapped in plastic, and ready to inflate. smugglers now often stash the boats separate from their passengers, to stop them being taken if there's a raid by the police.
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david shows me the route down to the beach. "the smugglers would get wind of a police patrol up to two hours before it reached them," he says. this year, under growing pressure, the uk announced funding to double the number of patrols on french beaches, and increased surveillance. it's spent almost £90 million on securing this coastline in the past few years.
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but is the investment having any impact? with more than 4,000 migrants reaching british shores last month alone, newspape headlines are screaming their disapproval. dan 0'mahoney is the man appointed by the government to stop it. we can't build a fence around 200km of french beaches, but what we can do is invest in the long—term in really advanced surveillance technology that allows the french boots on the ground
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to get to the right place at the right time. but it doesn't work — it doesn't work because we've spoken to migrants who say look, they see the french patrols coming two hours before they get there. isn't it time to be straight with the public and say "look, we cannot police the channel this way"? well look, we've been absolutely clear that the ideal outcome is that the migrants and the criminals are stopped before they get anywhere near a beach in france. but that's not happening frequently enough to break the business model. we're investing in that last stage of the journey in france, on the beaches and around the beaches, with the technology, with french law enforcement officers, and it's not working as well as we want it to.
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we need to get to the stage where it's more likely than not that if you attempt to cross the channel, you will be stopped. french patrols are now stopping more than half the number of boats from crossing, but the number of attempts has mushroomed this year, partly thanks to covid restrictions drying up other transport routes. in the migrant camps, people smuggling networks seem to be flourishing, despite 65 criminal convictions related to small boat crossings and a newjoint intelligence centre set up here last year. hamid — that's not his real name — is one of many new arrivals from afghanistan. he was a soldier in the afghan national army and says
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if i stayed, the taliban would kill me — and not only me, but my whole family. i went to the embassy and asked them to help me. i said "i worked with you". if you worked just one day for the army, the taliban will kill you — one day — and i'm national army. i worked many years with the americans, with the british, but now i'm scared. what did the british embassy say to you? he said "you must wait for an e—mail. "i will send you an e—mail and then you must come to the intercontinental hotel — the big hotel." i waited, but he did not send it to me. i went to the airport many times but they did not help me. i went back to the embassy but he still didn't help me. then i came by myself to istanbul, then hungary, then paris. i paid 3000 euros from kabul to istanbul. you paid a smuggler? yes, i paid. he took my passport and after three days, he brought my passport, visa, ticket — everything. most of the people i've met here have made contact with a people smuggler within a couple of weeks. some even made it to
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the uk in that time. hamid had been here a week when we met. he'd just started looking. three days after our interview, i get a message on my phone. hi, lucy. last night i tried by boat — 75 people from dunkirk — but before we put the boat in the sea, the police came and stopped me. when i speak to him, hamid tells me that the police told the migrants to go back to their camps and try again. he also tells me the smugglers had heard he was talking to the bbc and had threatened him, telling him to stop. general tavart says his men just don't have the resources to detain dozens of migrants. bigger boats with more passengers are one of the ways smugglers have adapted, and it's creating fresh problems for police.
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have there been times when you have had to let them go because you... with smugglers now using internal waterways to transport boats to the coast, pressure on all sides is growing. over the summer, the home secretary priti patel threatened to withhold more than £50 million of funding for the mission this year, unless france stopped more boats. while on patrol with us, general tavart issued a threat of his own.
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shared costs are one thing, shared interests and priorities another. france received more than 150,000 asylum claims in 2019. the uk, around 35,000. with relations strained after brexit, how far will france go to stop a small percentage of its migrants who want to leave for the uk? what has happened over the last ten years, every single time there's an issue, we say "ok, we need five more million for this, 5 million for that," but we are not actually really trying to solve the problem, which means actually working together more closely. john—paul mulot, currently working for france's centre—right presidential candidates, used to be the cross—channel envoy for france's northern region in the run—up to brexit. he spent years studying border
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arrangements there and talking to those on both sides. if you work together, it has to be really a joint force on the ground where in the army, at the moment, we still have, due to the bilateral treaty, we've got a french colonel running, you know, a british, you know, regiment and we've got a british, you know, commander—in—chief somewhere working with the french — the french military. why is it that we cannot have that at the border and have a joint border force, you know, and that would actually tackle illegal migration? unlike at ferry ports, migrants found by british patrols in british waters cannot be returned to france. with smugglers selling their clients unrealistic dreams of life in the uk, reception facilities there are now vastly
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overstretched. 0njoint patrols, you know, we have offered to the french many times for us to deploy british officers onto the beaches. it's not something they feel that they need or would find helpful, but the offer is always there. we would love to do joint patrols at sea as well. the french have a very strong view about sovereignty and therefore, its not an avenue they want to explore at the moment. sovereignty is a loaded issue after brexit. we met france's interior minister last weekend as he visited security forces along the coast. after months of criticism that his patrols are letting
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too many migrants across the channel, he told us that france had not yet received a penny of the £54 million promised by priti patel three months ago. the uk government says you're just not doing enough, you're not really trying. however good the cooperation between forces on the ground, political relations have been strained — and notjust by migration. rows over post—brexit fishing licenses and a secret submarine deal in the pacific have stretched diplomatic niceties to breaking point.
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general tavart can issue orders to his patrols on the ground but it's politicians in paris who issue orders to him. as dawn approaches, we join the unit on their new patrols along france's final frontier. it's their last chance to intercept migrant boats and take them back to france. but the game of cat and mouse is much riskier than on land and unless a migrant boat is in distress, french forces will escort them into british waters, rather than intervene. the uk now says if france won't intercept boats and turn them back, british border police might — if it's safe to do so.
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over the past two years, at least 1a people are known to have died trying to cross this slim patch of water. constrained by humanitarian risks and political alliances, maritime borders like this are difficult to police — smugglers know that as well as governments do. the battle in the channel today is a story of migrants slipping
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between the sovereignties of two great nations. a story of david and goliath, where vulnerability brings its own protection and sovereignty sets the limits of national power. cloudy and damp weather around for the first start of sunday, because we got some decent sunshine through saturday, the best of it across southern england, the midlands, wales and east anglia and the far north of
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scotland as well. late in the day, we did see some rain start to come down around dunblane, that is the first signs of this band of rain showing up on the radar, pretty extensive and heavy across northern scotland and england, getting into north wales as well and even further southwards, a few patches of rain across the south of wales in south—west england as well, across the midlands, south—east anglia, and some dry weather north of scotland for the next few hours. a mild start to the day on sunday. 11 to 30 degrees widely, a legacy of cool and clinging on across the parts of northern scotland, but otherwise extensive cloud to start the day on sunday, the rain initially heavyy in scotland, but later and patchy quickly to the morning but across northern ireland, scotland and northern england, these areas will be prone to spots of rain even in the afternoon so for some it will stay on the damp side but at the same time we should start to see some gaps in the cloud opening out in the south with a few sunny spells in southern england, southern wales and the south midlands. for monday, we will start to see some stronger south—westerly winds moving in, so monday will be a windier kind of day, particularly across western areas with layers of crowd and outbreaks of rain spilling in, but if we do see some
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sunshine, it is likely to be very hazy, and a lot of high cloud in the sky, so bright rather than sunny in those drier moments. temperatures will be mild, 15—18 degrees and it gets even milder still on tuesday. the winds coming from a long way south, and then we the slow—moving weather front bringing some intense bursts of rain to the west. perhaps across wales, perhaps across cumbria. some of these areas could see localised surface water but eastern areas not seeing much in the way of rain, but we could see some sunny spells breaking through, and if that happens across the south—east we could see temperatures climb to 21 celsius, very viry mild indeed, and that mild weather stays with us for the first half of the week before temperatures gradually get close to normal towards the end of the week.
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you are watching bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm rich preston. our top stories: a man suspected of killing the british member of parliament, david amess has been named as ali harbi ali. it's understood he'd previously been referred to a counter—extremism programme. the prime minister and leader of the opposition paid their respects at the scene of the attack — as a review begins into the threats faced by politicians. russia records more than 1,000 deaths from coronavirus in a single day for the first time since the start of the pandemic. mass protests in rome as tens of thousands of italians call for a ban on the neo—fascist forza nuova party over its involvement in a riot a week ago.
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