Over 50 rabbis urge delay on Calais Jungle demolition

Over 50 rabbis urge delay on Calais Jungle demolition

Jewish leaders joined those of other faiths calling on new Prime Minister to show leadership on the issue

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Migrants warm their hands at “the Jungle” camp in Calais
Migrants warm their hands at “the Jungle” camp in Calais

More than 50 rabbis, cantors and student rabbis have signed a letter calling on the French authorities to delay the demolition of the refugee camp known as the ‘Calais Jungle’ until unaccompanied children can be safeguarded.

Jewish religious leaders, together with several bishops and reverends, called for Prime Minister Theresa May to show early leadership on the issue, highlighting that there are still 300 at-risk children in the camp who will be “put in immense and unnecessary danger” if the plans go ahead.

The faith leaders call on the authorities to “pause the demolitions until all the children with a full legal right to be in the UK have been transferred and the remaining children have been appropriately safeguarded.”

Signatories include Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich, Baroness Neuberger, Masorti’s Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Rabbi Natan Levy, head of operations at Faiths Forum for London and former interfaith advisor at the Board of Deputies.

Senior Christian figures including the bishops of Durham, Manchester, Croydon, Barking and Dover have added their names, but leaders of all faiths have been critical of what they see as the government’s slow and limited response to the refugee crisis.

Earlier this year, the House of Lords passed an amendment proposed by Lord Alf Dubs, a Kindertransport child, to the Immigration Bill, compelling the government to offer sanctuary to 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, but this was rejected by the House of Commons.

David Cameron subsequently vowed to increase the UK’s intake to 20,000 children by 2020, but to-date less than 1,500 people have been admitted, mostly families settling in the north.

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