We Must Recognize Their Desperation, UK Bishop Says of Asylum Seekers

Calls for fair and rapid response for those trying to cross Channel

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In a letter to the Telegraph this week, the Bishop for Migrants of the episcopal conference of England and Wales, Bishop Patrick Lynch, outlined his response to the situation of migrants in Calais, saying that the desperation of those seeking asylum must be recognized.

Calais, France, has for years been a focus point for immigrant issues, as asylum seekers try to smuggle through the Channel Tunnel and reach Britain.

This year, however, there has been a marked increase in asylum seekers attempting to cross the Channel.

Bishpo Lynch writes:

SIR – I was heartened to read the joint commitment by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and Bernard Cazeneuve, her French counterpart, always to provide protection for those genuinely fleeing from conflict and to pursue the callous criminals who encourage so many to make this perilous journey.

We must respond to the situation in Calais by recognising the desperation of those seeking asylum, and by helping to put in place (especially in France) more efficient procedures to assess fairly and rapidly those seeking asylum. We should work with France to improve security measures, and we should assist navies (such as those of Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta) with rescue missions for the thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

At a global level, I would encourage our Government to work closely with other governments, humanitarian agencies and faith communities in countries from which migrants come and countries that receive them.

Causes of this mass migration are complex – armed conflict, civil war, the rise of Isil, failure of some states to function adequately, social deprivation and poverty. All these factors deepen desperation. Churches and faith communities in some of these countries are uniquely placed to offer care to those fleeing conflict, but also to help people, especially the vulnerable, to see through the human traffickers’ false promises.

Rt Rev Patrick Lynch SSCC
Bishop for Migrants, Catholic Bishops’ Conference

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