Bishops call on UK Government to help Calais migrants

Calais jungle camp for refugeesThe Jungle refugee camp in Calais being raided yet again by French police officers.

30 November 2017

Scottish, English and Welsh bishops have called on the government to end the misery being suffered by migrants who are stuck in French refugee camps.

Following a visit to the Calais migrant camp, Bishop William Nolan, President of the Justice & Peace Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and Bishop Paul McAleenan, Bishop for Asylum & Migration in England and Wales, have issued a joint statement addressed to the UK Government.

They have asked Westminster to do more to assist and support the migrants – particularly, unaccompanied minors.

They said: “Over a year since the dismantling of ‘the jungle’, the situation in Calais may have disappeared from public consciousness and headlines, however, whilst the camp has closed young migrants remain.

“Their situation is now much worse. These young people are forced to sleep rough, which at this time of year as temperatures fall is of great concern. Their presence is discouraged by the authorities; police tactics include interrupting sleep and confiscating tents and sleeping bags.

“Aid agencies report that the policies of the British government have resulted in young people turning to people smugglers in attempts to reach the UK.

“We urge the authorities to recognise that these are our fellow human beings, regardless of their status, and that their intrinsic dignity must be upheld.

“Of particular concern are unaccompanied minors whose rights as children must be recognised by both French and UK authorities. We appreciate the work of Secour Catholique, other aid associations, and their volunteers who are accompanying these young people and providing for the basic needs of food and clothing.

“We call upon the UK government allow children to be reunited with their families in the UK and to establish facilities that will allow migrants to raise their asylum claims from Europe, creating safe legal channels.

“We ask both UK and French governments to develop infrastructures to enable dignified living in Calais. As the season of Advent begins, we are reminded again that the Holy Family were themselves refugees forced to flee their home seeking sanctuary in a foreign land.”

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