In August 2015 senior representatives of the Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church issued a joint statement, which said:
We call on the Government to promote a more informed and higher level of debate on the issue – one which acknowledges, for example, that:
- many of the migrants congregating at Calais are people genuinely fleeing repression who have real stories of suffering and hardship to tell – and that some are unaccompanied children;
- the numbers involved do not warrant talk of an ‘invasion’ or ‘flood’ of migrants;
- the people at Calais represent a tiny fraction of the overall number of migrants who have entered the EU in the past year
- in 2014 Germany took three times more asylum seekers than the UK’s 14,000, and Sweden twice as many; France, Italy and even Switzerland also granted asylum to more people than the UK;
- the disruption caused to travellers is also a consequence of issues unconnected with the situation in Calais, including industrial action by ferry workers;
- historically the UK has welcomed people fleeing persecution, including Jews escaping from Germany during the Second World War;
- the UK has been militarily involved in some of the situations that have given rise to the persecutions from which people are fleeing;
- contributions to this debate should always adopt language which better reflects the British values of compassion, hospitality and respect for human dignity.
We also call on the Government, in its response to this emergency, to:
- recognise that most migrants cannot be returned to their country of origin: in many cases it is not even possible to be certain of an individual’s country of origin due to a lack of documentation;
- promote the establishment of proper, EU-run processing centres at key entry points in Europe (such as southern Italy and Greece);
- accept the need for the UK to take its share of migrants as other European countries are already doing.