UK Catholics call for action after 27 Channel deaths

A young migrant from Iran hoping to go to England watches ferries from a beach in Calais, France (CNS/Pascal Rossignol, Reuters)

British Catholic leaders have spoken out after 27 people died attempting to cross the English Channel in an inflatable boat. Source: The Tablet.

Two survivors have been taken to a Calais hospital and are being treated for hypothermia, according to French authorities, who confirmed the deaths of the 27 remaining passengers on the vessel that sank. Believed to have been crossing in order to seek asylum in the United Kingdom, those on board were reportedly Iraqi and Iranian Kurds.

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols described the drownings as “a tragic summons to action”.

“This event illustrates graphically both the ruthless evil of the traffickers and the desperation of those trying to escape poverty, conflict or persecution in search of a better life,” Cardinal Nichols said.

Emphasising the innate dignity and worth of refugees and migrants, the cardinal concluded that “focused international cooperation, safe routes to sanctuary and joint efforts to tackle poverty are all needed in the face of a global flood of desperate humanity”.

Jesuit Refugee Service UK chief Sarah Teather told The Tablet she was “deeply saddened” by the news. She said that, in her view, the drownings also involved questions of “justice”.

“While desperate people drown in the Channel,” she warned, “the Government makes plans for pushback tactics so dangerous that it has mooted immunity from prosecution for Border Force officials in the event that more people drown.”

The International Maritime Organisation said the tragedy was the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since they began to take records in 2014.


Catholics call for action after 27 Channel deaths (By Madoc Cairns, The Tablet

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