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English bishop condemns UK Government decision not to support med migrant rescue

A senior English bishop has strongly condemned the UK Government’s decision not to support migrant rescue services in the Mediterranean.

Baroness Anelay, who is a foreign office minister, said the UK government would not support a new Pan European supporting rescue service as saving refugees whose ships sank would only encourage more people to attempt the dangerous crossing in order to enter Europe.

Italy has been running a major search and rescue operation called Mare Nostrum following a boat disaster off the island of Lampedusa last year in which more than 300 migrants drowned.

Even so, around 3000 are estimated to have drowned making the crossing this year alone.

A joint EU rescue migrant rescue mission is due to start this weekend in the Mediterranean but will have just a third of the funding of the previous Italian mission and will only patrol close to shore.

Bishop Patrick Lynch, chairman of the Office for Migration Policy at the English and Welsh Catholic Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs said Pope Francis had shown this was not an acceptable approach.

Bishop Lynch (above) said that he accepted the UK Government’s assertion that ‘efforts are being made to find lasting solutions to these challenges, we have a duty to heed with compassion the cries of our wounded brothers and sisters, and not to pass by on the other side.’

“Britain is still Europe’s leading naval power, and to refuse to join in Mediterranean search and rescue operations would be a misguided abdication of responsibility to those thousands of men, women, and children who have been driven from their homes by persecution and war and forced to risk death at sea,” he said.

A multi-millionaire Catholic couple, who started their own private migrant rescue service in the Mediterranean after being inspired by Pope Francis, have said they fear many more migrants may now die.

US father-of-one Chris Catrambone, who, along with wife Regina launched the private rescue service two months ago, said the couple were ‘very concerned’ that many more lives will be lost with the end of the Italian mission.

After hearing Pope Francis speak about the duty to help migrants, the Malta-based couple bought a 130 ft ship and equipped it with drones, medical staff and rescue workers. They have been patrolling for the last 60 days during which they say they helped save 3000 lives.





—Read the full version of this story in November 7 edition of the SCO in parishes from Friday.



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