4 Dec 2020

Bishop Robert speaks out on Calais refugee situation


Speaking in this week's edition of The Church Times, Bishop Robert has urged the UK and French Governments to manage the refugee situation in Calais humanely and equitably. 

Here is the statement issued by Bishop Robert:

I recall the September 2020 joint Advocacy Statement on the situation of migrants and refugees in Europe which the Anglican Communion co-signed with European and global Churches and faith partners:

We see:  As we near the end of 2020, thousands of vulnerable refugees have sought to cross the English Channel from Calais, while thousands more remain trapped in inhumane conditions in northern France. Covid-19 health risks have worsened the situation.  

We believe:  As Christians, we believe in human dignity rooted in the creation of each person in God’s image, and that everyone possesses innate human rights. Jesus identifies with the refugee and the oppressed and calls on us to similarly identify compassionately with the vulnerable. We believe our calling as Christians and churches compels us to welcome the stranger as our response to Jesus himself. When recognizing Christ in the face of the stranger, we begin to transform the situation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ into a new relationship of ‘we’, there is blessing in the encounter and we become human together.

We commit and will continue to: Work in the Pas-de-Calais chaplaincy and engage with our ecumenical and faith partners, to advocate safe routes for legal migration to be established; responsibility sharing across Europe to be stepped up to implement the EU Pact on Migration & Asylum; and for the fear of displaced peoples among us to be combatted through better integration in local communities.

We ask: That the UK and French Governments focus on managing the refugee situation in Calais humanely and equitably, respecting the rights of asylum seekers under the European Convention on Human Rights.  In the Brexit context, I am particularly concerned about the potential lapse of the Dublin III provisions on 31 December 2020, which currently determine where and how an asylum claim in the EU is processed.  I am especially concerned to secure child refugee rights to reunion with family members, which Church of England bishops supported in the House of Lords in October.  I await eagerly the position of the UK Government on this.

We must give Advent hope to refugees in Calais, and right across Europe.  At this time of year, we are reminded that Mary and Joseph were displaced from their home with no choice, and that the Holy Family had to take flight from brutal oppression following the birth of Jesus.  Calais reminds us of our need to address a refugee situation in our time, and that our responses to it should lie at the heart of our humanity.


Photo by Ruby Hirsch - Stand up to Racism