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World News

Think of the Good Samaritan - charity head says Christian response is needed to solve the refugee crisis

by Donna Birrell

The co-director of a charity which supports refugees when they arrive in the UK says there needs to be a more Christian response to the crisis.

Phil Kerton from Seeking Sanctuary says politicians should think about the individual lives of people trying to make the journey from France to the UK, while trying to find a solution to the situation.

He was speaking after a diplomatic row erupted between the two countries after France withdrew a summit invitation to Home Secretary Priti Patel over a letter from the Prime Minister which was described by French officials as "unacceptable".

In the letter, Boris Johnson had set out steps to help avoid a repeat of this week's tragedy in the Channel in which 27 refugees drowned. Suggestions included joint patrols, better use of technology such as sensors and radar, maritime patrols in French and British waters and stronger cooperation by intelligence services.

Phil Kerton gave his reaction to Premier.
"I think that Prime Minister and Home Secretary seem to have a very little grasp of international law. They should know much better. France is a separate sovereign country and it has its own territorial waters to look after. It has its own domestic laws but there's also the International Law of the Sea and you don't go pushing people back, except in very strange circumstances.

"Sadly, the policies, that either the French or the British government have adopted for the last 20 years or more, are very non-productive. The more you go about doing what the Prime Minister wants to do, which is to make crossings impossible, the more you push people into finding other ways of getting across those waters, such as clambering onto the roofs of high-speed trains.

"It's just not realistic to look at the length of French coast and expect anyone to be able to patrol it very well. It's also not realistic to expect another country to invite your police and armed services to come and operate on their territory.

"There needs to be a people-centred solution that is based on Christian values. If you look at the parable of the Good Samaritan - he saw someone who was from a hated alien race in trouble and he made certain that he was looked after, that his needs were looked after. His first reaction was to treat the person as a human being with a humanitarian response."

Three children and a pregnant woman were among the 27 who died after their boat sank near Calais on Wednesday afternoon. 

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We have spoken about many of these ideas before. The public understandably want to know what we are doing to prevent this happening again. We want to work closely with France."

In a statement to the House of Commons after the deaths in the English Channel this week, the Home Secretary Priti Patel said. 

"The United Kingdom has given its unflinching and generous support to France to end this terrible trade in people smuggling.

"We are not working just to end these crossings because we don't care and we're heartless. The United Kingdom has a clear and a generous, humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees.

"We continue to work closely with the French to prevent crossings. More than 20,000 have been stopped this year, which I think all members of this House should recognise the magnitude and the scale of the illegal migration crisis that we are seeing. We have dismantled 17 organised criminal groups and secured over 400 arrests and 65 convictions.

"But this crisis continues, clearly demonstrating we need to do more, together. This is a complicated issue and there is no simple fix."

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