Through our weekly basket collections we are supporting Bishop Robert’s Lent Appeal 2018 aiding the plight of unaccompanied child migrants in the Calais area. These youngsters have been reduced to sleeping rough in the open since the closure of the refugee camps last year. They are extremely vulnerable. Two specific projects will benefit. Maria Skobtsova House - a safe house and outreach ministry to child migrants – run by an Old Catholic monk, Br Johannes Maertens. Also the Diocese in Europe is recruiting a Chaplain to the Pas-de-Calais congregations & as a refugee project officer.
As you have seen on social media the situation in Calais is getting tense and goes from worse to dramatic. It is estimated that around 600 refugees now live on the streets, parks and grasslands of Calais. The refugees are dependent on the local associations for a warm meal, clothes and sleeping bags. Refugees are often exposed to violence on the streets and their sleeping bags are taken by the police. One Eritrean refugee who speaks good French says he wants to leave France as he doesn’t feel safe anymore. ‘They treat us almost as if we are animals. I don’t feel safe here.’
The average age of refugees is young, some boys are only 14 years old, and girls 16. These are very vulnerable to being trafficked as they are often unaccompanied minors. The police don’t seem to distinguish between the adults and minors; they DO NOT guide the minors to the social services responsible for minors. We need an urgent Christian response to this inhumane situation.
We will collect all through Lent – please give generously to this vital work.