Bishop Paul McAleenan at Dover memorial to refugees drowned in the Channel. Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk
Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has followed other faith leaders to object to the UK government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. He said in a statement today: “The proposal to send some of those seeking asylum to Rwanda is at odds with the line from the Prophet Isaiah which we read as we prepare for Easter, ‘He does not break the crushed reed nor quench the wavering flame’.
“Despite presenting the plan as a humanitarian need to combat trafficking, this scheme will compound the difficulties of those arriving on our shores hoping for a new beginning. The actions of the people of this country show that they wish to lift up those in need, decisions of the government should do likewise.
“I am reminded of a memorial plaque on the promenade in Dover honouring those who died at sea seeking refuge. ‘Every migrant has a name, a face, a story’. This should be our starting point. We need to make it convenient for them to tell their story (their Asylum claim) remembering we are dealing with individuals made in God’s image who have endured great hardships in their own country and on their travels.
“The UK Government and the whole international community, motivated by the desire to uphold the dignity of human life, need to address the problems which cause people to flee their homes.
“We pray for all refugees whose sole aim is to survive each day. Led by the Christian spirit, manifested so powerfully at Easter, we should help and not discourage them.”
In his Easter Vigil Homily, Cardinal Vincent made it clear that those who seek solutions to these challenges must do so with compassion and regard for human dignity, saying that ‘this policy announcement simply lacks these qualities.’