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Migrants: evacuation started in Calais. Bishop Jaeger, “let it be respectful of human dignity”

An appeal so that the evacuation that is taking place in Calais right now may be carried out with “extra dignity and respect, especially for children, women and people who are in poor heath conditions”. It was made by the bishop of Arras, monsignor Jean-Paul Jaeger, on whose area the Calais “jungle”, where the refugee camp started to be closed down at 6 this morning, is located. The government’s plan is to bring about 7,500 immigrants to the 287 shelter and reception centres (Cao) that have been set up all over France. Only Corsica and Île-de-France have been left out of the rehoming plan. 60 buses will leave even today, 45 tomorrow, 40 on Wednesday, and so on, all week long. A huge logistic plan, which will be supervised by 1,250 police agents and officers. A 3 thousand square metres’ hangar has been built between the shantytown and the bus departure, to house the sorting centre.

“Even if, for many people, this place has been a ray of hope – the bishop says, because of its unhealthy conditions and uncertain subsistence, it is bound to disappear”. But this “closing down” – mgr. Jaeger asks – must turn into a sort of “building”. And he explains: “First, we must build or rebuild, in terms of respect for the human dignity of these men and these women, wounded people who have left their country and their families in often atrocious and painful circumstances. These very people have often been exploited by networks that should have led them to an hypothetical promised land and have been taken to Calais, instead, in the conditions we know so well”.

Then, the bishop says he is worried that the event, so widely covered by the media, may trigger “fears, reactions of defence and rejection”. And he adds: “Our borders fall when it is about selling, buy, producing, trading money. Why should they be strengthened now and become even more closed, when human beings move because their lives are engendered?” So, the bishop of Arras also warns against the election campaign that is taking place in France now for the president’s election in 2017 and asks not to reduce the matter to mere political slogans, “when there is the survival of fragile beings at stake”. And he reminds the Catholic devotees that, even if the Year of Mercy is about to end, its works “will keep on marking the daily life of or communities, because they are the proof and fruit of the mission of Christ and the Church. “Accepting strangers – the bishops concludes – is one of such works of Mercy, of which Christ gives us the example and asks us to practice as His true disciples”.

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