Channel crossings: Border force patrol following deaths
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The Pope said the indifference to the situation of migrants is the “shipwreck of civilisation”. He spoke on the Greek island of Lesbos, which he last visited in 2016 shortly after the height of the European migrant crisis, commenting that “little has changed” since then.
In late November, 27 migrants drowned while attempting the dangerous Channel crossing from France to Britain in a dinghy.
This group included seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children.
On the other side of Europe, migrants have drowned during their efforts to cross a river on the Belarus-Poland border.
Pope Francis condemned the “tragic” way European leaders treat migrants.
He said: “In Europe there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them – this is tragic.
“History teaches us that narrow self-interest and nationalism lead to disastrous consequences.”
A number of European leaders, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, were due to gather in Brussels in order to discuss solutions for the ongoing Channel migrant crisis.
But the UK was disinvited after French President Emmanuel Macron, who organised the meeting, reacted harshly when Boris Johnson published a letter laying down his proposals online.
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The meeting took place, though without British involvement, and in it France insisted that Britain must be “responsible” for resolving the problem by making the country “less attractive for migrants”.
French politicians have rejected a number of Mr Johnson’s proposals, including joint migrant patrols with the UK.
One idea, the creation of a “bilateral readmissions agreement” allowing migrants who cross the Channel to be returned, fell flat in terms of policy but sparked mockery from France that Britain was trying to have its cake and eat it by leaving the EU but attempting to adopt its treaties (in this case, the ‘Dublin agreement’).
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Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney rejected this claim, telling Express.co.uk that such agreements should be “torn up” from a British perspective and replaced by new ones which “reflect the wishes of the public on immigration”.
After walking through the island’s Mavrovouni camp, which holds around 2,300 people, Pope Francis insisted that the causes of migration, rather than the migrants themselves, should be challenged.
He said: “It is easy to influence public opinion by instilling fear of the other.
“The remote causes should be attacked, not the poor people who pay the consequences and are even used for political propaganda.”
The pontiff also condemned “the era of walls and barbed wire” and said it was “distressing” to hear some EU leaders call for the building of walls to protect the bloc.
While he admitted that citizens feel “fatigue and frustration” over migration – feelings which he claimed had been made worse by the pandemic – he insisted that nations must “eradicate the prevailing mentality revolving around out ego” and find a workable solution before matters are allowed to get any worse.
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