In 2015, Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group organised a walk from Dover to Crawley via Shepherdswell, Canterbury, Chilham. The walk started in Dover and was blessed by Bishop of Dover and also blessed by the Canon Pastor in Canterbury Cathedral. The walk is based upon Canterbury Tales and in this case the tales relate to Refugees. On the second night, the talk was in St Peter’s Methodist Church and the church was full.
Last year the walk started in Canterbury and walked to Faversham before continuing from Rochester to Westminster and was greeted towards the end by the Bishop of Croydon.
This year the walk was from Runnymede to Supreme Court in Parliament Square. Of course Runnymede is where the Magna Carta was signed. The charter includes the following, which is still valid today and is considered ‘Due Process’
(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
At Weybridge we stopped at Christ Prince of Peace Roman Catholic Church where we were greeted by the RC Bishop of Arundel and Brighton as that diocese is doing work with refugees. Each day there was a stop at lunchtime for a talk by a speaker on Due Process, which highlighted the failing of the system for refugees. Part of the walk was inspired by the ‘Canterbury Tales’ and each evening there were ‘Tales’ about how migrants saw their situation. One of the final ones was a migrant from Africa who had highlighted in his local community Female Genital Mutilation. As a result he was forced to flee his village and eventually his country, He arrived by air in London and applied for Asylum. However, after several months it has been decided he should return to his country although he has appealed and still waiting a decision. During this process he is being kept in detention.
Terrorists have to be charged or released within 14 days. Britain is the only country in Europe that detain migrants indefinitely, the longest period being one person in Lincoln prison for 9 years. The Guardian reported in May 2017 that there were 317 being detained for more than 6 months.
Three MP’s did speak to the group towards the end of the walk, which is the first time. The Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group who organise Refugee Tales is calling for the Government to limit the time that a migrant (refugee) can be detained is limited to 28 days.
As an aside to the walk as you might remember I have interest in the migrant issue in Malta. From there a privately funded rescue boat operates off the Libyan coast during the summer and has been very active this year in conjunction with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome. Between 15 June 2017 and 30 June 2017 they took 1686 persons (men, children, women (including pregnant women) to southern Italy
There is a recent comment on the MOAS Facebook page ‘.While we're glad to have had a relatively good day in the #Mediterranean, where all those in need have been rescued safely, our team continues to hear frightful stories of the torture people are forced to endure in #Libya, where the situation for #migrants and #refugees continues to deteriorate.’
This is only a small part of the refugee problem. I heard stories from migrants who have travelled long distance through the African desert to reach England. There are also large number of migrant arriving in Denmark and those in our cities being rehoused through the UN from camps in the Lebanon.
We need to pray for all refugees in this country being detained for more than 28 days, for those trying to get from Libya and those involved in the rescue operations. There are also those in refugee camps in Lebanon and other places as well as nearly 100,000 in Italy.