By Lisa Zengarini
Anglican and Catholic bishops on both sides of the English Channel, have renewed their plea for “better treatment” of all the vulnerable undocumented immigrants who have entered France and are trying to reach Britain.
Fellow humans who deserve to be helped
In a joint statement released on the occasion of the World Refugee Day, on June 20, the six bishops remind that these strangers “who are exiled from their homelands” are “fellow humans who deserve to be helped to find places where they can live in dignity and contribute to civil society”. They observe “with sadness the lack of hope that drives people in distress to become exploited by traffickers and add to the profits of their illegal trade”.
The heartnening support from local residents who ignore prejudice
The Church leaders, however, also call attention to some positive signs, saying they are “heartened by those who generously offer financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation, whatever their religious conviction”. These people, they remark, “ignore the myths that lead to prejudice and fear that apparently prevent politicians from creating new and constructive policies that go beyond closing frontiers and employing more security staff”.
Commitment to encourage residents to create a climate of welcome
On their part the six bishops reaffirm their commitment “to encourage residents to create a climate of welcome and understanding for strangers who share in the hopes and needs of all humanity.”
The appalling conditions of the camps in Calais
The appeal follows the rescue, on June 19, of 80 migrants by French authorities as they attempted to cross the Channel to reach the United Kindom. Nearly 10 thousand migrants have tried such attempt in 2020, four times the number of 2019. The Church of the coastal town of Calais, where many of these migrants concentrate living in makeshift tent camps, has repeatedly denounced their plight calling for a solution to this humanitarian crisis.