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Home News Purbeck parishes tell the Home Secretary - 'make migrant channel crossings tales of hope'

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Purbeck parishes tell the Home Secretary - 'make migrant channel crossings tales of hope'

by Michael Ford last modified 09 Jan, 2019 01:13 PM

Three parishes in Purbeck Hills have written to the Home Secretary calling on him not to encourage “xenophobic prejudice” by fostering “a hostile environment towards asylum seekers attempting the perilous crossing of the English Chanel in search of sanctuary and safety.”

Purbeck parishes tell the Home Secretary - 'make migrant channel crossings tales of hope'

The White Cliffs of Dover- original image Immanuel Giel, via Wikimedia Commons

The letter to Sajid Javid, from the parishes of Langton Matravers, Worth Matravers and Kingston, describes those who make the perilous journey as “desperate people in need of kindness and hospitality.”

And it challenges “the seemingly callous disregard the Home Office has shown towards individuals and families seeking help and rescue from deeply traumatic situations beyond their control.”

The letter from the group of churches known as the Parishes of the Purbeck Hills was sent following Mr Javid’s visit to Dorset, where he spoke in favour of preventing any migrants from reaching UK shores by boat across the channel.

UPDATE: Read a digital copy

Condemning this approach, the parishes remind the Home Secretary that the narrative of the Epiphany:
“Is not a cosy post-Christmas story, but a tale of hope following the dark politics that resulted in the slaughter of the innocents under Herod’s insecure and brutal government. It was from this persecution that the Holy Family fled as refugees seeking asylum and safety in Egypt.

“We cannot but reflect on the Home Office response to the so called ‘crisis’ of small numbers of desperate people risking everything, including the lives of their families, to cross the Channel in unseaworthy boats in the hope of safety and sanctuary in the UK.

“Those making these perilous and desperate journeys deserve a humanitarian response. We call on you as Home Secretary to demonstrate this in your words and actions in the coming days and weeks. Please do not inadvertently give succour to xenophobic prejudice by perpetrating a ‘hostile environment’ towards desperate people in need of kindness and hospitality.”

Speaking on a visit to Dover, the Home Secretary was quoted as saying:
‘...if [they] do somehow make it to the UK, we will do everything we can to make sure that [they] are often not successful...”

The letter comments that sending genuine refugees away to face possible persecution in order to dissuade others from seeking to come to the UK is illegal under international law:

“We understand that the majority of those making landfall in the UK over the Christmas period are originally from Iran. The latest asylum statistics show that around three-quarters of Iranian asylum claims succeed, so the majority of these desperate people are likely to be genuine refugees.”

James Mercer, Parish Priest in the Purbeck Hills Parishes, speaking about the letter, said:
“The Gospel narrative is profoundly subversive. It speaks truth to power and champions the cause of the oppressed and marginalised.”

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