Government urged to ‘take a lead’ globally on migrant crossings crisis

A bishop has called on the Government to “take a lead” in dealing with the global issues that drive migrants to risk their lives on unsafe journeys.

Bishop of Dover Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin said politicians are often “playing to the gallery”, and she issued a plea for compassion.

She was speaking a day after a young Sudanese migrant was found dead on a beach in France.

Migrants rescued
Migrants rescued

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the tragedy, which French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa said on Twitter involved a 16-year-old.

Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s newly appointed clandestine Channel threat commander, is expected to return to France on Thursday to continue discussions with officials in Paris and Calais in a bid to tackle the migrant crossings crisis.

Dozens more migrants are believed to have arrived in the UK on Wednesday but the Home Office has yet to provide any details.

Border Force and French authorities are active in the English Channel again on Thursday, with wind speeds expected to be lower than yesterday.

Ms Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England’s first black female bishop, told BBC Breakfast on Thursday: “We need to try and understand what is happening, why people are fleeing from their countries, why are people taking such unsafe routes in order to get to the UK or to get to Europe.

“We need to not just, every time there’s a boat, throw our arms up and think ‘panic, panic, let’s do something about it, let’s build walls, let’s put the Border Force out’.

This is an upsetting and tragic loss of a young life.

This horrendous incident serves as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people.

Working together we are determined to stop them.

— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) August 19, 2020

“We need more long-term planning and thinking.

“We know the kind of hostility that those who are seeking a safe haven face, and actually politicians are often responding or playing to the gallery, so we as a community, we as British people, we must be very, very clear to all our politicians that we don’t want the kind of knee-jerk reaction or language to pacify a particular group of people, we must be compassionate.

“What I want our Government to do is to take a lead with other governments around the world and to begin to look long-term as to what are some of the things that we can do to stop the flow.”