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Britain eases entry and Africans storm French airport

May 23, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Britain has become easier for Australians to enter now the UK Border Force has extended eGates (Automated Border Control) to Australian citizens – while across the Channel in France, about 500 illegal immigrants from Africa stormed Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and prevented people boarding their flights.

Developments indicate that airports in Paris, along with Air France, may be facing further disruption.

One of the immigrant protesters at the airport shouted through a megaphone (in French, naturally): “France does not belong to the French! Everyone has a right to be here!”

The French authorities do not view it that way.

The airport seems to have been targeted because it’s near the administrative detention centre in Seine-et-Marne, where illegal immigrants are held before deportation. The African protesters also have a strong grievance against Air France.

Protesters demanded to meet with Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe to discuss France’s asylum policy, saying they want immediate legal status so they can stay in France. More extreme elements declare that everyone should be allowed to live in France, and borders should be abolished.

The group is nicknamed Gilets Noir or Black Vests, a reference to the Yellow Vest protesters. They demand immigration documents, housing, freedom of movement, and settlement for all “sans-papiers”, meaning undocumented migrants, sometimes known as illegal immigrants.

Protesters also demanded to meet officials from Air France, which they call the “official deporter of the French state”.

African protesters at Charles de Gaulle Airport while airport police stand ready 

A representative from Air France tried to calm the situation, telling the protesters their concerns would be passed on to senior management.

Protestors claim this is just the beginning and there will be more demonstrations. “We have targeted Air France and other actions will follow.”

The UN estimates that there are already about 8 million migrants in France.

 IN BRITAIN, MEANWHILE, as the country continues to struggle with how and when to leave the European Union (if ever) people travelling on Australian ePassports (not including Emergency Passports or Documents of Identity) can now use eGates at 15 major British airports and Eurostar terminals on arrival in the UK, free of charge.

Visitors with Australian ePassports no longer need to complete a landing card to enter the UK.

Who can use eGates on arrival in the UK:

  • Travellers over the age of 12 and who hold an Australian ePassport;
  • Members of the registered traveller service.

Australian visitors still need to get a stamp in their passport if:

  • They’re travelling on an Emergency Passport or Document of Identity travel document;
  • Visiting for short term study (less than six months);
  • Other specific reasons or certain types of work (such as Permitted Paid Engagements or with a Tier 5 Creative and Sporting certificate of sponsorship). 

London becomes more accessible for Australians

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises:

If you plan to stay for more than six months, or if you apply from within the UK to extend your stay, you’ll need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application.

If you have a UK visa, you may be eligible to apply for the UK’s Registered Travellers Scheme (RTS) for faster clearance through UK border control. The RTS entitles you to use electronic passport gates (or the UK/EU passport queue) at most UK airports and Eurostar stations. Check the UK Visas and Immigration website for latest information.

Written by Peter Needham

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