Day of Action at the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais
Archbishop Peter Smith and Fr Paul Mason, Episcopal Vicar for Kent, travelled to Calais on Saturday 19th September to participate in the Day of Action, a sign of support and solidarity with those living in the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp. They met with Ben Bano of Seeking Sanctuary, a Kent based group working with ‘Secours Catholique’ to provide support to those in the Calais camps who are in need.
with Ben Bano (right) of Seeking Sanctuary,
and Dominique Debelle (left) volunteer with ‘Secours Catholique’,
in the scratch built Eritrean Church in the Calais Jungle
The day for action drew many people to the camp to express their support for refugees and their concern at the lack of compassion shown to those literally on the margins of society in Calais.
A march of several hundred people, those from the camp and visitors, set off on a march to the gates of the Port of Calais.
At the Port of Calais Archbishop Peter met with Bishop Jean-Paul Jaeger, of the Catholic Diocese of Arras, in which Calalis is situated (third from right), and the Anglican Bishop of Dover, Rt Rev Trevor Wilmott (righ of picture). As a sign of solidarity with the refugees the three Bishops signed a join statement:
We leaders of churches alongside the English Channel have joined in solidarity with this Day of Action in Calais and repeat our calls for people to respond to the growing crisis by showing generosity to those who are exiled from their homeland. These vulnerable men, women and children share in our common humanity and everyone can help them to live in dignity and contribute to civil society.
People of all faiths and none can assist by providing financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation. Above all, we can pray and gather information to support pleas for better treatment in our nations and across the European Union. We wish to counter the myths that lead to prejudice and fear and urge politicians to envisage new policies that go beyond merely closing frontiers and employing increased numbers of security staff.
We resolve to work together to encourage residents to create a climate of welcome for strangers and we trust that we will be joined in this by all who gather in places of worship along the frontiers of European nations.