Independent Catholic News
By: Peter Jennings
Bishop William Kenney,CP, Spokesman for European Questions of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales,Ceuta,migrants
Bishop William Kenney, CP, Spokesman for European Questions of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales travelled to Ceuta, the Spanish coastal enclave in Morocco, on Saturday, for a short fact-finding mission to visit and see the plight of the migrants living there.
Ceuta is the dream target for thousands of immigrants from counties in Africa who wish to settle in mainland Europe.
Bishop Kenney, Diocesan Administrator of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, was accompanied by members of various European Justice and Peace Commissions.
On his return Bishop Kenney gave a graphic account of the situation. He said: “We visited the fence, built and controlled by Spain, that completely surrounds Ceuta, but we were not allowed to come in the vicinity of it. It consists of two separate fences about six metres high made of barbed wire and razor wire. It is equipped with a co-ordinated system of high intensity light, surveillance video cameras, and radar.”
Bishop Kenney said: “This fence means that people fleeing from war, poverty, starvation and torture, now come mainly be sea. As a result thousands of them have died in their attempt to enter Spain through the Straits of Gibraltar.”
Bishop Kenney met representatives of the 600 immigrants who are in Ceuta. He said: “They talked passionately about the appalling situations that they have fled from and also about the ‘legal limbo’ they now find themselves in.
“These people are not allowed to travel further into Europe because Ceuta is subject to strict European Union immigration regulastions; and most of them cannot return to where they came for fear of their lives.”
Bishop Kenney said: “On Saturday evening, having returned to the Spanish port of Algeciras, we held a long prayer service on the beach where many of the bodies of the women, men, and children who have failed in their attempts to enter Europe are washed-up!
“I found this profoundly moving knowing that this is where sisters and brothers, made in the image of God, ended their lives trying to achieve greater human dignity.”
“It is evil that six metre high fences and draconian regulations cause our fellow human beings to drown in this way.”
“One possible solution, which would solve part of this problem would be to allow controlled immigration into Europe. This would mean that many people would choose to take a legal route into Europe in order to better their lives.”