Displaying items by tag: Channel crossings
Days after 27 people drowned in the English Channel, the BBC discovered that smuggling gangs are still telling migrants it is safe to cross. One smuggler said that the drownings were a lie and that there was no danger in making the journey. The brutal journeys migrants make across the Channel are full of stories of crisis. Pray for the detection and removal of the guerrilla-style smuggling operations among the French dunes. Pray for authorities to have more compassion for the streams of soaking passengers washing ashore in Kent. Pray for this international criminal industry to be thwarted by even more sophisticated detection. Pray for an end to the supply of specially-made boats that refugees are packed into. New arrivals in French camps are given tips on how to find a people-smuggler. One young man from Afghanistan was told to look for ‘the Kurdish man’ hanging around during food distribution.
‘The boat is our only chance for a new life in a safe country’, said Kamal, an Iranian Christian convert who has been in Calais for 10 days with his wife Niki and their baby daughter Sava. ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself’. Over 4,600 people have crossed the Dover Strait on small boats so far this year, with increased surveillance and coronavirus travel restrictions having effectively closed the more popular method of hiding in vehicles. With inflamed UK rhetoric, the UK's immigration minister is discussing ‘new, comprehensive action plans’ to stem channel crossings. Priti Patel plans to use warships to intercept migrant vessels, but a MoD official said it’s ‘completely potty, inappropriate and disproportionate’. Kamal has lost everything since leaving Iran three years ago. They were incarcerated with 300 others after seeking refuge in Slovenia, where their savings were lost to the mafia.
The Bishop of Dover has expressed her deep sadness over the death of a 16-year-old migrant who drowned after attempting to reach the UK in a small boat (see Europe article below). Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin said, ‘People who try to cross the Channel seeking safety and security are not criminals, they are like you and I. Human beings who should be afforded the dignity and respect and rights that so many of us take for granted. It is a travesty that this young man will never see his hoped-for future, that his family has been deprived of seeing him grow up.’ She said she ‘would like our government to take the initiative’ in solving the root causes of the migrant crisis. ‘I'd like them to sit down with other governments, not just when someone dies but in the long term.’ She also urged the Church to continue to help with the resettling of refugee families and stop joining in with negative rhetoric.
Two teenagers unsuccessfully tried to cross the Channel in a three-foot dinghy using shovels as oars. They wanted to cross by themselves, bypassing people smugglers who charge high prices. One was a 16-year-old Sudanese boy who was found dead on the beach near the former ‘Jungle’ camp; his friend was found on the same beach suffering from hypothermia. Detention Action described the death as horrifying but wholly expected, saying, ‘We have repeatedly warned Priti Patel it was only a matter of time before her toxic policy to deny safe and legal routes to the UK would cost lives. This death lies firmly at her door. She should consider her position.’ Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said the boy's death demonstrates the ‘total failure of our government’ to help children in such desperate straits.
Last month you prayed for compassionate provisions for refugees (see). Now Tony Smith, the former head of UK Border Force, said that if the UK and France fail to agree joint Channel patrols, arrivals will reach crisis levels. He said, ‘They need to agree a treaty with a joint patrol where migrants picked up in the Channel can be returned to France to have asylum claims considered there. What I'm advocating is we try as best we can to replicate the juxtaposed controls for legitimate applicants in the same way as for illegitimate applicants. Over 200 migrants managed to cross to Britain in twenty boats in one day. If they want to come to the UK they need to make their case on the French side, and if they are found in the waterways or even make it as far as Dover we say, “I'm sorry but you go back there and that's where you will be interviewed and processed, on the French side”.’