THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has called on France and Germany to resolve the problem of the Calais “Jungle” camp, home to about 10,000 migrants, and not try to pass it on to the UK.
He was reported as having told an audience at a literary festival in Henley last week that countries in Europe were “shunting” migrants on to Britain, and that countries that were signatories of the Schengen Agreement — which abolishes passport and border controls for members — must act themselves to resolve the issue.
His strongly worded comments were hailed by right-wing press, but in an interview with his local paper, the Yorkshire Post, Dr Sentamu said that he had been asked about Calais at the end of his talk by a member of the audience.
He described how he had brought back a party of young people from Taizé this summer, just after the Brexit vote, and shown them the Jungle at Calais.
“I said to them this is a responsibility of the countries where those migrants arrived in the first place. It is for them to resolve. However, if there are unaccompanied minors in the Jungle and their families have been given asylum in the United Kingdom, it seems to me that this is a matter which the Government of the United Kingdom has to resolve. Families should not be separated.
“I then said that the responsibility for handling the Jungle lies with the Schengen countries to resolve and they must not use the Jungle as a way of passing on migrants that have entered Schengen countries to get to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement and therefore the responsibility of handling the Jungle is theirs and theirs alone.”
Once himself a refugee to the UK — from Uganda, in the 1970s — Dr Sentamu also called on the British Navy to patrol the Libyan coast to try to stop people-traffickers smuggling people across to Europe.
Last week, the French President, François Hollande, said that the UK must accept more migrants from the Calais camp, and that it cannot “shirk its responsibilities to France”. The Home Office has said that it would resettle vulnerable children but no more.
There are estimated to be 1000 lone children in the Calais camp.