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'Pray for families to be reunited' says charity as 1,000 more migrants could cross channel

by Cara Bentley

On Tuesday, 86 people crossed the sea in tiny boats, thought to be the highest number in a single day.

The charity Care4Calais is now warning that the closure of a camp in Dunkirk could lead to many more embarking on the same mission.

Phil Keaton from the Christian charity Seeking Sanctuary told Premier that the camp at Calais has not disappeared, despite it not featuring on the news so much.

"It is pretty much the same, except rather than there being one very big camp, there are numerous, smaller campuses, probably just under 1,000 people around Calais itself and 1,000 more in other places along the coast."

He explained that the removal of people from camps is constant: "Whilst we have 'hostile environments' that people encounter when they try to work through the official channels of seeking asylum over here, in France they have this 'atmosphere of deterrence', they call it, which you could really say is being nasty to people so you hope they'll go away and go somewhere else.

"The police are quite ruthless in their determination to move people on. There was a big evacuation just yesterday of a place where there were about 50-100 tents not far from the old jungle, in a wood. They cleared everybody out and confiscated their tents."

Speaking about why people leave their homes to get to the UK, Mr Keaton said: "Things back home are really desperate. You've got to be desperate to start off on the journey, leave your friends and family and everything you've known, cross deserts, seas, mountains, encounter people who think you're there to steal their goods and take over their lives and be cursed at and swore at.

"You have to be resourceful as well, the people who actually come as far as Calais and try to get over to Britain are people who could probably run small businesses very well in Britain."

He added that people prefer to try to get to the UK because they may speak some English and find it difficult trying to seek asylum in the French process, which he said was 'slow'. In addition to that, many migrants know friends or family who've gone ahead of them who they want to reunite with and in France they may have their possessions confiscated every few days and be "living off other people's cast-offs, relying on charity for food."

Phil Keaton suggested Christians should pray for migrants by praying that safe and legal ways are found for them to seek asylum and "most particularly, for family reunion, that is going to be a great problem - where some of the family have gone over and others have not."

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