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Something does not love a wall in Calais

LONDON (SE): When on 26 June 1963 the then-president of the United States of America, John Kennedy, quoted Robert Frost as saying, “Something there is that does not love a wall,” while standing before the concrete divide of East and West Berlin, he touched a deep chord in people’s hearts.

Today, the Caritas Social Action Network in England may well quote the same words to describe its concern over a proposal to build a wall near the Calais refugee camp to prevent people fleeing violence from finding their way into the United Kingdom.

“We recognise the right of states to secure their borders, but we believe that investing more money in security at the port and Channel Tunnel will not provide a long-term solution to the growing problems at Calais,” Caritas England says in a joint statement with its French Counterpart, Secours Catholique, released on September 14.

Caritas says that in the past months, the refugee camp in Calais has been growing. An estimated 9,000 people are now living on one meal a day in poor conditions in the camp, hoping to find a way to build their lives again.

Caritas organisations working with refugees, including in the Calais camp, have reported an extraordinary response to their calls for donations and aid to be sent to Calais, which it calls strong evidence of the continuing resolution among the British and French people to see the residents of the camp treated with dignity.

“We reiterate our call for European Union responses to the situation at Calais to respect the human dignity of residents of the Calais camp. We in particular urge the Union, France and the United Kingdom to provide for the basic needs of migrants, including those in transit, to guarantee their human dignity,” the statement says.

The two groups want to see an improvement in the solidarity and responsibility-sharing among European Union Member States through including a fair mechanism in the Common European Asylum System.

They say that it is necessary to prioritise the family reunification of asylum seekers in Calais with family members in the United Kingdom, especially in the cases of unaccompanied children.

“The dire situation in Calais cannot be resolved by building yet more fortifications. Rather we need to find ways of responding to human needs. As Pope Francis said in April, to achieve peace, ‘The greatest obstacle to be removed is the wall of indifference’.”

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