The Confraternity is often asked if it is safe to walk through Calais. The answer is emphatically yes – it is as safe as any port city, as long as the usual safety precautions for any city are observed. The pilgrim heading for Rome, whether south down the coast to Wissant, or inland to Guines, is unlikely to come across any migrant encampments.
CPR and Calais
Pilgrims on the Via Francigena walking from Canterbury to Rome necessarily pass through Calais. Few of us will ever set eyes on a refugee, and – in answer to the repeated question – personal safety is no more at risk there than in any other port or city.
But as we head for Rome with our packed rucksacks, new boots, and electronic gizmos, we are passing by one of the great humanitarian tragedies of our time. Conditions for migrants in Calais are appalling, and there is constant brutality from the French border police, whom the UK pays to prevent refugees remaining in or near Calais.
During the past three years two of our current trustees have spent time working at the Auberge des Migrants, in the Refugee Community Kitchen, wood yard or warehouse. We should like to encourage members to spend some time there, maybe even a day or two working ion their way to Rome – or consider a donation to help those who have no choice but to be on the move.