EU nations '˜shunting migrants' to UK says Archbishop of York

The Archbishop of York has accused European countries of '˜shunting migrants' towards the UK.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who was speaking at the Henley literary festival. Picture: PA
Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who was speaking at the Henley literary festival. Picture: PA

John Sentamu warned that the UK should not be viewed as a ‘soft touch’ as he claimed the refugee camp in Calais existed only because the Schengen Agreement allowed free travel without border checks, allowing migrants from the Middle East or Africa to move through Europe to the edge of the Channel without passport checks.

Sentamu told an audience at the Henley literary festival that Schengen countries needed to ‘own up to what they have created’.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

According to a national newspaper, Sentamu said: “I think it should be that, wherever the asylum seekers arrive in that particular place, you have a responsibility for their care, their love.

“Schengen countries have not done that with the ‘Jungle’ and I, for one – as much as I am sympathetic and I feel sorry for the number of people genuinely seeking asylum – I think really the issue lies with the Schengen countries and they cannot see Britain as a soft touch.”

Sentamu, who fled the Idi Amin regime in Uganda in 1973 and moved to the UK, visited the camp in Calais in June of this year.

He insisted that the UK could not be held responsible for the camp because it had never been part of the Schengen countries.

Sentamu added: “Those Schengen countries ought to resolve the problem that belongs there because [migrants] have entered Europe because of free movement.

“Every nation is shunting them and shunting them and shunting them in the hope that they will end up in the UK.”

Earlier this week, France’s President Francois Hollande called on the UK to accepted some responsibility for solving the refugee crisis in Calais and across Europe.

Hollande said that he wanted the camp, which is home to around 10,000 people including around 1,000 unaccompanied children, to be ‘completely dismantled’.

Sentamu also called on Britain to start navy patrols on the Libyan coastline in a bid to prevent people smuggling.

He said: “What I never understood is, given the ability and the number of British ships we’ve got, why aren’t they patrolling the coast around Libya to stop people getting into boats?”

The Archbishop also praised former prime minister David Cameron’s policy of providing aid for Middle Eastern nations to help refugees stay in their home countries.