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Sunak says UK stepping up efforts with Turkey to curb smuggler boat export into Europe

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The UK and Turkey are “stepping up joint operations” to stop the export of small boats into Europe, which “is a vital element of smuggling gangs’ tactics,” according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who answered questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Sunak said everything must be done “to stop the boats and tackle illegal migration.”

“We know that the export of small boats across parts of the European continent is a vital element of the smuggling gangs’ tactics. And that’s why specifically we are stepping up joint operations with Turkey,” Sunak said when asked about the supply chain that fuels small boat crossings.

The prime minister said he had raised this issue when he spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “so that we can tackle organized immigration crime and specifically disrupt the supply chain of both parts that are used for these dangerous crossings.”

According to The Telegraph, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) believes that the vast majority of small boats sailing to the UK are built in backyard workshops in Turkey before being fitted with outboard engines from China. They are transported to Germany, where they are stored before being shipped to the French coast if needed.

On Saturday a total of 872 migrants were discovered crossing the English Channel in 15 small boats. According to the UK home office, this is the highest number recorded so far in a single day in 2023.

The previous daily record was set on Aug. 10, when 756 migrants were detected crossing the channel.

In August the UK and Turkey agreed to a new deal to disrupt the operations of people-smuggling gangs and curtail illegal migration through enhanced intelligence sharing and collaboration.

A key element of the deal is the establishment of a “centre of excellence” by the Turkish National Police to facilitate swifter action on shared information and foster cooperation between the National Crime Agency and Home Office staff based in Turkey and their Turkish counterparts.

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