BY Daniel Harkins | January 26 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

4-NOLAN

Bishops back new Calais deal but criticise lack of child migrant support

A Scottish bishop has criticised the UK Government for not accepting more child migrants, saying ‘the innate God-given dignity of all human life’ must not be ignored.

In a joint statement, Bishop William Nolan (right), president of Justice and Peace Scotland, and Bishop Paul McAleenan, the lead bishop for Asylum and Migration for England and Wales, welcomed a new treaty between the UK and France aimed at speeding up asylum applications, but warned that new security provisions must not result in violence against young migrants.

The two bishops visited Calais in France last year to witness to the suffering of those fleeing poverty and conflict and seeking shelter in the UK.

“We welcome the positive aspects of the Sandhurst Treaty which will come into force on February 1,” a statement from the bishops said. “This agreement, the first treaty on the Calais border in 15 years, will streamline the process of migration from France to the UK. Where currently migrants are forced to wait up to six months, adults will now be able to transfer within one month and children within 25 days.”

The statement said the government and the civil service ‘must be held to account in implementing the Dublin III regulations which will allow children to be reunited with their families in the UK,’ adding that ‘this opportunity to bring greater humanity and compassion to the migration system must be grasped by the government.’

“We also welcome the UK’s commitment to support France in its provision of accommodation to those previously in the Dunkirk and Calais areas and to greater cooperation in the fight against organised crime, including those responsible for human trafficking,” the statement said. “Improving the legal means by which migrants can access the UK will in itself reduce the amount of criminal activity.”

The bishops warned that an additional £44.5 million of funding being promised by the UK to France to tighten-up border security ‘must not result in further violence and brutality against young migrants whose lives are already marked by destitution and suffering.’

“We are very pleased with the announcement made by [Home Secretary] Amber Rudd that the timeframe for the Dubs Amendment has been brought forward to January 2018,” the bishops said.

“However, we strongly regret that this opportunity has not been used to commit to an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors that will be welcomed into this country. We call on the Government to reconsider this position. The innate God-given dignity of all human life, especially that of innocent children, must not be ignored.”

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