Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders expressed concern over the situation in Northern France in joint statement for World Refugee Day.
Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders working on both sides of the English Channel have expressed concern about the refugee situation in northern France. In a joint statement issued to mark World Refugee Day (20 June) they called for a “climate of welcome and understanding”.
In 2020, there were approximately 80 million forcibly displaced people around the world. 26.3 million of these are refugees. Among these, an estimated 1,500 people, including unaccompanied children and women with new-born babies, are living in forests or makeshift shelters in northern France. A non-profit organisation Human Rights Observers said that there were 973 evictions by police in Calais in 2020 alone, not including the dismantling of hundreds of tents each month.
In their join statement, a number of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops said: “we find it necessary to repeat calls for people to respond to the challenge of listening to the strangers amongst us who are exiled from their homelands. These are fellow humans who deserve to be helped to find places where they can live in dignity and contribute to civil society.
“We are heartened by those who generously offer financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation, whatever their religious conviction. They 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. Their stories should be heard before decisions about their futures are announced.
“We urge all who gather in places of worship along the frontiers of European states to pray and gather information to support pleas for better treatment of all vulnerable men, women and children.”
The Church of England’s Bishop in Europe, Robert Innes, and the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, were the two Anglican Bishops who signed the statement. They were joined by the Roman Catholics Bishop of Bruges, Lode Aerts, the Archbishop of Lille, Laurent Ulrich, the Bishop of Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer & Saint-Omer, Olivier Leborgne, and the Archbishop of Southwark, John Wilson.