THE Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops in Kent have called on the Government to “intervene decisively” to resolve the situation in Dover, where more than 2800 lorries are queuing to enter the port and the Channel Tunnel.
Lorries have been stranded in Dover since Sunday, when France closed its border with the UK to try to prevent the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus to mainland Europe.
An agreement was reached on Tuesday evening to reopen the border, although HGV drivers have to undertake a rapid Covid test before being allowed to cross into France. On Wednesday, there were clashes between police and lorry drivers who attempted to enter the Port of Dover.
A statement was issued on Wednesday by the Archbishop; the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin; the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Llangstaff; and the Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Revd Simon Burton-Jones.
It says: “As Anglican leaders in Kent, we are dismayed by the situation in Dover. We recognise the need to take urgent precautions to slow the spread of the new strain of coronavirus. But to leave seasonal workers, families and some truck drivers without adequate food and sanitary facilities is unacceptable — both for those stranded and for the people of Dover.
“For those now unable to return to their families in mainland Europe for Christmas — at the end of this year of such great suffering — the heartbreak and frustration is immense. Local councils in Kent are stretched to the limit trying to support all those who are stuck. We applaud council workers, churches, other faith groups and volunteers who are providing hot meals and other kinds of support.
“These efforts are heroic. Kent’s local authorities are doing everything they can with the resources they have. But this is a national issue and the government needs to intervene decisively. The necessary provisions must be given for people to endure this ordeal with their dignity intact, making sure enough Covid tests are available so drivers and workers can return home as soon as possible.
“As we reflect on the coming of the Christ-child born in a manger, we are reminded of our responsibility to respect the God-given dignity and value of every human being. May that be the case for the people of Kent, for all those in Dover, in France and everywhere this Christmas.”