People Not Walls – A declaration for change

A declaration calling for better treatment of those seeking asylum

17/06/19

A declaration calling for better treatment of those seeking asylum will be signed in Dover to mark international Refugee Week.

People Not Walls: The Cross-Channel Human Rights Initiative brings together the work of many groups in Britain and France including non-governmental organisations, faith groups and local residents.

Those signing the declaration include Chaplain and Refugee Projects Officer in Pas-de-Calais, Reverend Kirrilee Reid.

She said: “The People not Walls declaration highlights the need for action and a fresh approach on Cross-Channel Human Rights.

“After my first few months ministering among all parts of the community in Pas de Calais, it is abundantly clear that we need to see an end to the securitisation approach in the UK/French border zone, respect for right to asylum at the border; and to open safe migratory passages to the UK.

“Moreover, we need a fresh approach to these issues, rooted in respect of human rights and dignity to those seeking a better future or sanctuary from oppression, persecution and conflict.”

Revd Reid began her work in November last year and is the first priest to hold that post. The role is supported by the Diocese of Canterbury, the Diocese in Europe, and the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Archdeacon of Maidstone, The Ven Stephen Taylor said: “All too often we lose sight of what is important among the headlines, the confusion and, often, the fear.

“As a church, we will continue to provide hope and sanctuary for all those in need and those who are vulnerable, both home and abroad.

“As a diocese will continue to keep the plight of refugees on the national agenda and work with those who share our commitment for change.”

St Margaret of Antioch’s Church is hosting a service on Thursday evening. It will be followed by a clifftop candlelight vigil to show support for refugees across the Channel. The worship will coincide with a similar event being held at the same time on the beach at Calais which will be attended by Revd Reid alongside refugees and other agencies.

Canterbury Diocese Refugee Officer, Domenica Pecoraro said: “We are all one. This is our message of love and solidarity with those stranded in Calais, in Europe, in the Mediterranean, and with those who have reached safety in the UK. Today and every day, our Diocese lives in spirit and action with those forcibly displaced from their homes.”

For more information about the service and candlelight vigil, please email Domenica at DPecoraro@diocant.org and click here to read the declaration.