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World News

Asylum deal is just a 'sticking plaster' says Christian refugee charity

by Donna Birrell

There's to be a 40 per cent jump in the number of officers patrolling beaches in Calais, as part of a deal between the UK and France to tackle the migrant crisis. 

Further measures include drones and night vision equipment to help detect crossings in the English Channel.

The Home Secretary Suella Braverman says she is 'encouraged' by the deal and the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says getting a grip on illegal migration is an "absolute priority".

Ben Banu, a Christian director of Seeking Sanctuary, which supports asylum seekers arriving in the UK, tells Premier: 

"This is a kind of sticking plaster and doesn't really address the issue at all. 

"In fact, what it does is to make people even more desperate. Recent reports suggest that there's been a game of cat and mouse, particularly in the area around Dunkirk where people who are absolutely desperate are being encouraged by people smugglers to hide in the sand dunes until the police have gone and then get a boat. 

"So in fact, if anything, this is increasing the level of human misery, and will make people even more desperate.

"The solution has to be to enable people to claim asylum, probably on French soil, in an orderly way. 

"That would take care of at least some of the misery that we're seeing. We need to manage the situation in a much more humanitarian way.

"We also need to stop this whole narrative about people being illegal. It's not actually illegal to get on a boat with the intention of claiming asylum, as 95 per cent of the people concerned actually do."

Under the deal the UK will pay France £8m more a year for increased surveillance of French beaches with patrolling officers increasing from 200 to 300 over five months.  

Ben Banu says Christians and churches can do a huge amount to help people understand the issues around the crisis:

"We really need to bring about a new attitude of tolerance and understanding. 

"We need faith leaders to be able to actually take this message through, use it in their sermons, use it in faith communities across communities, and call out some of the injustices that are around."

More than 40,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats from France so far this year.

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