Picture from Refugee Info Bus
In sending these updates – which include a call for contacting our politicians – I know that some people feel the Church should separate itself from politics, or make no comment on such matters. I disagree. On this occasion – as so often – political decisions are precisely what has led to the risk of harm and suffering for “the least of our sisters and brothers.” This week Cardinal Vincent linked the work that the Santa Marta group are doing in relation to human trafficking to the situation in Calais, and he is right to do so. The Dubs Amendment was passed in May; children are vulnerable this morning – with great vulnerability to trafficking – precisely because the Home Office and French Government have acted so slowly, and because the camp closure and demolition was allowed to proceed before all the children were accounted for.
Undoubtedly, many in Calais have made heroic efforts to ensure nearly 5,000 refugees have been registered, allocated transport, and taken to welcome centres in France. This effort deserves recognition, and it cannot have been an easy task for the authorities. Our prayers should also be with all those involved in the last three days. But the registration centres are closed, now, and that is an injustice for those – including many children – who were turned away yesterday. It needs urgent redress.
You can read a variety of statements below from the different groups on the ground in Calais this week. This is a situation that needs a great deal of prayer and healing, and rather stronger voices being raised for basic social justice just 22 miles from our shoreline, and in a situation where we share moral responsibility.
Thank you to so many parishes and individuals that have donated over the last 14 months; we have taken almost £100,000 worth of aid to Calais, and most of that money has come from within the Diocese of Brentwood, as well as Churches together in Basildon. This aid – and similar from many individuals and small groups across the UK – has been the difference between refugees having food and clothes, and having none, for there has been virtually no French or UK Government funding, nor involvement of any major aid agency (apart from Medecins Sans Frontieres) throughout these many months.
As to what happens after this week, who knows? The charities in Calais will assess needs and let us know; I will be in touch when things are clearer.
With every blessing