Bishop Paul McAleenan, Chair of the Office for Migration Policy at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Westminster and Chair of Caritas Westminster, and John Coleby, Director of Caritas Westminster, have responded to the tragic deaths of four people, a Kurdish-Iranian family, who died in the English Channel this week when a boat they were travelling in sank.
Bishop Paul McAleenan said:
‘All who value human life, whatever their position on migrants and refugees, will be united in sorrow following yesterday’s tragedy in the Channel. Immediate thoughts should be with the adults and children who died, their families wherever they are in the world, and their companions who will remember forever what they witnessed.
‘It is hoped that no one will want to make a mere political point because of the incident. What is truly needed is a meeting of minds. That will require a shifting of mindset on the part of those who set the rules, and the pursuit of heartless profiteers to ensure that no one feels compelled or encouraged to risk their life or that of their children, in a dangerous craft on the open sea.’
John Coleby said:
‘The death of an Iranian family in the English Channel on their way to a ‘better life’ once again confronts us with the risks people are prepared to take to escape conflict, exploitation, violence and poverty. In doing so they expose themselves to further exploitation by criminals but also to the mercy of our own immigration and asylum systems and regulations. They can be very unwelcoming and cold; sometimes amplifying trauma, not ameliorating it.
‘As a Church, we continue to reach out and provide a welcome for migrants and refugees. “Welcome” is both the provision of direct relief and support and calling for integrated humane asylum and immigration systems. People fleeing their countries do not do so lightly; they need our support to find their way safely to the refuge we call the UK, where their human rights are respected and where in time they might thrive. How many more people need to die in the channel or in the back of a lorry before we act to welcome strangers and not fear them?’
Statements released on 28th October and 30th October respectively.