Following the tragic death of at least 27 migrants in the Channel on Wednesday – the worst-ever migrant tragedy in that body of water – Cardinal Vincent Nichols said:
“The terrible loss of so many lives in the Channel is a tragic summons to action. This event illustrates graphically both the ruthless evil of the traffickers and the desperation of those trying to escape poverty, conflict or persecution in search of a better life.
“Every one is a child of God, with an innate dignity and worth. Focussed international cooperation, safe routes to sanctuary and joint efforts to tackle poverty are all needed in the face of a global flood of desperate humanity.”
Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, also commentated on the tragedy:
“Everyone knew refugees were crossing the Channel in unseaworthy craft. It happened yesterday and the day before and in increasing numbers in recent weeks. It will happen again tomorrow and will continue unless determined concerted action is taken immediately.
“Concern for and a desire to protect refugees from life-threatening danger is our duty at all times, not only when a tragedy occurs. Yesterday’s loss of life is a reminder of the desperation of those who are willing to risk everything as they seek a better life in a desire to escape appalling experiences and circumstances.
“A remedy needs to be found immediately to prevent more tragedies and, at the same time, address the underlying causes which force refugees to flee their homeland, war, poverty, persecution and climate change need to recognised and addressed.
“The depth and sincerity of belief in the value and sanctity of every human life will be seen in the response to what happened. May those who perished rest in peace.”
On Saturday, 25 September, the day before the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Paul McAleenan led a service of reflection and prayer on the seafront in Dover. The group gathered to pray at the Migrants Memorial on the front that was installed in memory of those who have lost their lives seeking sanctuary in the UK.