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Create 'climate of welcome' for asylum seekers say coastline Bishops

by Donna Birrell

Bishops on both sides of the English Channel are calling for refugees to be treated with humanity and decency and provided a welcome rather than hostile reception. 

They've issued a statement responding to the ongoing situation around Calais and the surrounding ports and coastline towns between northern France and Belgium, where many displaced people are seeking shelter.

The Bishops represent the Anglican Dioceses of Canterbury and Europe and the Catholic supporters are the Archbishops of Southwark and Lille, the Bishop of Arras, Boulogne & Saint-Omer, and the Bishop of Bruges.

The Bishops say they are saddened at having to repeat calls for people to respond to "the challenge of listening to the strangers amongst us who are exiled from their homelands. These are fellow humans who deserve to be helped to find places where they can live in dignity and contribute to civil society.

"With sadness, we observe the lack of hope that drives people in distress to become exploited by 
traffickers and add to the profits of their illegal trade.

"We resolve to work to encourage residents to create a climate of welcome and 
understanding for strangers who share in the hopes and needs of all humanity."

Ben Bano and Phil Kerton of Seeking Sanctuary, which facilitated the statement said :

"Countless numbers of people fleeing persecution  and violence are still subject to rejection and a hostile environment. In their joint statement the Bishops from the UK, France and Belgium have joined together to speak out against this injustice as well as calling on people of faith to show solidarity for the plight of the victims of persecution, war, and climate change."

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