In the perilous years of World War II many refugees took the dangerous and uncertain route through the Alps out of France in search of safety and freedom. Many who made the journey in the freezing winter temperatures did not survive.
And 75 years later these journeys are being made again, but in the opposite direction. Many young migrants who have survived the hazards of the Mediterranean are now making the journey from Italy to France along tracks at altitudes as high as 1700 metres. Clad in unsuitable clothes and with light footwear, they are at risk of falling victim to the dangers of seeking sanctuary in one of the most severe winters in recent years. We have learnt of a young man who had to have both his feet amputated in France because of frostbite - but he was still deported to the frontier with Italy after his operation.
Ben Bano, one of the Directors of 'Seeking Sanctuary', commented: "On this day when Pope Francis has again asked the world to remember the suffering and challenges faced by migrants every day, we appeal to all concerned by these experiences to put pressure on elected representatives and other authorities to resist the downward spiral of condemnation and vilification of migrants attempting to reach safety and to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect. As Pope Francis again reminds us, 'every migrant has a name, a face and a story'."
Phil Kerton & Ben Bano,
'Seeking Sanctuary' aims to raise awareness about people displaced from their homes and to channel basic humanitarian assistance from Faith Communities and Community Organisations via partnerships with experienced aid workers. Our special concern is for those who arrive in north-western France, mistakenly expecting a welcome in the UK. Almost all the 8,000+ migrants in Calais in October 2016 were moved away, hopefully to better accommodation. 1616 unaccompanied minors also left, along with hundreds of vulnerable women and children, hoping that claims to stay in the UK or France would be processed. Many judge that they have been let down, and hundreds have returned to sleep rough near Calais and along the coast. The Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk burnt down in April 2017, displacing around 1400 people, over 950 of them moved elsewhere, whilst the rest remain nearby, joined by scores of newcomers weekly.
They need food, good counsel and clothes, which are accepted, sorted and distributed by several Calais warehouses, which also supply needs further afield.
Further information from Ben Bano on 07887 651117 or Phil Kerton on 01474 873802. See our latest news at www.seekingsanctuary.weebly.com