Government urged to ‘take a lead’ globally on migrant crossings crisis
A bishop has called on the Government to “take a lead” in dealing with the global issues that drive migrants to risk their lives on unsafe journeys.
Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, said politicians are often “playing to the gallery” and issued a plea for compassion.
She was speaking a day after a young Sudanese migrant was found dead on a beach in France.
French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the tragedy, which French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa said on Twitter involved a 16-year-old.
According to some media reports, prosecutors have since said documents found on his body suggested he was 28 and named Abdulfatah Hamdallah.
Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s newly-appointed clandestine Channel threat commander, returned to France on Thursday to continue discussions with officials in Paris and Calais in a bid to tackle the migrant crossings crisis.
Meanwhile, the Government has called on councils to “take responsibility” as it urgently tries to find care for lone migrant children who have crossed the Channel to the UK.
At least 164 migrants – including children – reached Britain on Wednesday in 11 boats, the Home Office said.
Border Force dealt with another boat on Thursday carrying eight men who said they were from Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia and Sierra Leone, the department added.
Ms Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England’s first black female bishop, told BBC Breakfast: “We need to try and understand what is happening, why people are fleeing from their countries, why are people taking such unsafe routes in order to get to the UK or to get to Europe.
“We need to not just, every time there’s a boat, throw our arms up and think ‘panic, panic, let’s do something about it, let’s build walls, let’s put the Border Force out’.
“We need more long-term planning and thinking.
“We know the kind of hostility that those who are seeking a safe haven face, and actually politicians are often responding or playing to the gallery, so we as a community, we as British people, we must be very, very clear to all our politicians that we don’t want the kind of knee-jerk reaction or language to pacify a particular group of people, we must be compassionate.
“What I want our Government to do is to take a lead with other governments around the world and to begin to look long-term as to what are some of the things that we can do to stop the flow.”
Mr O’Mahoney said the death of the Sudanese migrant “served as a tragic reminder of the vital importance of the work the UK and France are engaged in to make this route completely unviable.”
He said there had been “positive discussions” with officials about “enhancing operations with increased surveillance, aerial support, further intelligence sharing and patrols in northern France”.
The Home Office also announced on Thursday that a man has been jailed for smuggling himself and nine other people – including two children – across the Channel aboard an inflatable boat.
Altaib Mobarak, 43, admitted a charge of facilitating illegal entry into the UK and was jailed for two years on Tuesday.
He was at the helm when the boat was intercepted by a Border Force cutter on July 7.
All 10 people on board the vessel – Sudanese and Yemeni nationals – were transferred to the cutter and brought to Dover where they were passed to immigration officials.