08/08/2015 6:32 pm
A Statement on the Crisis in Calais by Bishop Patrick Lynch - Catholic Bishop for Migrants in England and Wales
“I am deeply concerned over the deepening humanitarian crisis involving thousands of migrants unfolding in Calais. The crisis has developed over a decade and challenges us all, both as Christians and as Europeans. We must face up to this reality at various levels.
"First, in solidarity with the most vulnerable migrants we recognise the local pastoral, humanitarian, and compassionate response from the French Church and call on the French authorities to redouble their efforts in providing adequate reception facilities for migrants. We acknowledge the work done by faith organisations in France and the UK together with charities, agencies and the great generosity of families and individuals to the relief efforts. The task is immense and their contributions are most valued. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will be making a material contribution to those efforts.
"Second, at an international level we are aware that the answer to the current migrant crisis lies beyond Calais. Estimates from the UNCHR indicate that “In the first six months of this year, 137,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea, travelling in terrible conditions upon unsafe boats and dinghies”. The 2014 estimate for the same period was 75,000. Therefore in addition to addressing the humanitarian needs of the increasing numbers of migrants undertaking this treacherous journey we must examine the root causes of current migration from North Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
"Third, we must face up to the shared responsibility of making the world a better and safer environment to live in. We must examine as a matter of urgency the arms trade that fuels armed conflict and civil war, climate change, unjust economic policies, poverty and corruption as some of the underlying causes of this fundamental global trend. The safety of vulnerable women and children who may fall prey to smugglers and human traffickers is paramount and must be addressed.
"Finally, the current migration crisis is complex and there are no easy solutions for governments, non–governmental organisations, faith groups and charities working on the field. However, governments, charities and humanitarian aid agencies should be encouraged to work together for a collaborative international response to the challenge in partnership with the countries of origin. Countries of origin must recognise that ‘the defence of migrants rights’ is viable and effective when based on a firm foundation of legal norms, and operates under the rule of law. (Caritas Europa 2009)”.
Bishop Patrick Lynch
Chair, Office for Migration Policy
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales