In a joint operation with British immigration services, France deported three Afghan illegal migrants early on Wednesday. Immigration minister Eric Besson said all three were from the Kabul area where they "there is no risk to them".
Three Afghan illegal migrants were flown back to Afghanistan in a joint operation with British immigration services, France's Immigration Minister Eric Besson confirmed in the early hours of Wednesday.
The three men had been arrested at Ventimiglia on the Italian border with France, in central Paris and at the makeshift Calais "jungle" camp for immigrants looking for a passage to the UK, Besson told the media.
The flight "left Roissy airport at midnight with three Afghans, three male adults, on board, and will take them back to their country of origin," French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said on Europe 1 radio, adding that Britain had chartered the plane.
He added that all three are from the Kabul area of Afghanistan "where there is no risk to them."
"A French official in Kabul will meet them, they will be looked after individually and will be given money to help them settle in," Besson said.
Left wing political parties and associations had mobilised on Tuesday against the planned deportations.
Etienne Pinte, a member of the (right wing) ruling UMP party and MP for Yvelines, told AFP he had sought - and gained - assurances from Besson that there would be no forced return of illegal Afghan immigrants to Kabul.
Socialist leader Martine Aubry condemned the forced deportations telling France 2 television on Wednesday: "This is a disgrace for France, we cannot treat men and women like this".
She continued: "I want to point out that they don't come here to bother us but to flee war, misery and poverty."
Uncertainties persisted throughout Tuesday as to whether the flight would go ahead, but Besson confirmed the deportations had begun just after midnight Tuesday night.
"At the last minute I decided that a fourth Afghan should not be sent," he added. "His case had not met all the requirements and conditions for deportation."
Besson stressed that "if France never deported [illegal immigrants], then the country would become a target for people smugglers," adding that France has not deported illegal Afghans in recent months, unlike the UK, Norway and the Netherlands.
Date created : 2009-10-21