The Bishop of Dover has expressed her deep sadness over the death of a 16-year-old migrant who drowned after attempting to reach the UK by crossing the channel in a small boat.
The body of the teenager was found on a beach in Sangatte, Northern France, after his inflatable craft sank, reportedly as a result of being punctured by a shovel that the youngster was using as an oar. A fellow occupant of the dinghy managed to survive.
Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin called the incident an "appalling tragedy" that should serve as "a wake up call to all of us".
“People who try to cross the Channel seeking safety and security are not criminals – they are human beings like you and I," Bishop Rose added. "Human beings who should be afforded the dignity and respect and rights that so many of us take for granted. It is a travesty that this young man will never see his hoped-for future, that his family has been deprived of seeing him grow up."
Speaking to Premier Christian News, Bishop Rose said that she "would like our government to take the initiative" in solving the root causes of the migrant crisis.
"I'd like them to sit down with other governments, not just one off every time there's a dinghy, or every time someone dies," she said. "But in the long term, you see, in the short term, what we're doing is building walls, sending out the border force, for goodness sake, that's knee-jerking.
"What we need is to look at what is happening in our world. Why are people fleeing from their countries? No one in their right mind wants to leave a beautiful, warm country to go somewhere where it's cold and freezing. So something is happening. Let's address what is happening at the roots. And let us first and foremost be compassionate in our response."
Bishop Rose also urged the Church to continue to "help with the resettling of refugee families" and "stop joining in with negative rhetoric".
"I want the church community to look amongst themselves and say, who amongst us can support a refugee family...maybe I don't have a room to have them in, then, you know, maybe we can help with food," she said.
"Maybe we can help with teaching English. Maybe we can help with work experience...there are things that we can do. What we need to do begin with is to see each other as brothers and sisters, and our children."
Home Secretary Priti Patel called the incident "upsetting and tragic loss of a young life" that served "as a brutal reminder of the abhorrent criminal gangs and people smugglers who exploit vulnerable people".
"Working together we are determined to stop them," she added.
Listen to Premier's interview with Bishop Rose here: