Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has urged the UK and French governments to work together to eradicate the underlying reasons that result in migrants risking their lives in an attempt to cross the English Channel to reach Britain.
Home Secretary Priti Patel recently met with her new-to-post French counterpart, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, to discuss how the governments of the two countries can do more to tackle illegally-facilitated Channel crossings by small boats.
They signed a Declaration of Intent in which it was agreed that a Franco-British Operational Research Unit would target the network of criminal gangs behind migrant smuggling – collating and analyzing operational intelligence to prevent crossings from taking place and to dismantle the gangs behind them.
“Their focus must be in determining why so many choose to flee their home country and use their influence to eradicate the underlying reasons why these same people are willing to risk their lives in the open sea,” said Bishop McAleenan.
“I would like to see the details of the agreement between the UK and France, that would indicate how they understand and perceive what is taking place in the English Channel.”
Bishop McAleenan said he wanted to see the protection of the vulnerable as the principle motivating factor:
“Surely two countries which pride themselves on being progressive and enlightened will see that the welfare of those who are destitute is vital. Protection of people should be foremost in their thinking.”