Dismantling the Calais ‘Jungle’ leaves unaccompanied children at unacceptable risk

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Up to 1,500 unaccompanied children and teenagers remain in the ruins of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp in unacceptable conditions while French and British authorities continue to bicker over their future.

jungle

20 October 2016. © Richard Burton

The handling of the dismantling last week of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp which was home to almost 10,000 refugees and migrants has been rushed and chaotic on both the French and the British sides, leaving children and vulnerable young adults at unacceptable risk. Children are sleeping rough, or else crowded into shipping containers with extremely limited food, water and hygiene facilities since the main camp area has been torn down, according to reports from volunteer groups.

Despite promises from the British government that all minors with the right to come to the UK, either under the Dublin Regulation to join family members here, or under the Dubs Amendment as particularly vulnerable children, will be processed and welcomed to this country as quickly as possible, there has been little progress since last week, and there is no information available to the young people left behind.

Asylum Aid’s Children’s Solicitor has described her frustration, trying to get answers from the UK authorities regarding bringing her 16-year-old client to safety with his family here in the UK.

“I have submitted representations to the Home Office over 6 times this October without any response whatsoever. My client has submitted representations to the French authorities when he registered his claim for asylum prior to the camp’s demolition. The UNHCR kindly helped out with tracing my client after he went missing this week – having been arrested and then released by the French authorities – and found that neither the French, nor British authorities are aware of my client, no records of his submissions exist. He is 16. He doesn’t exist according to the authorities. And yet he is one of the lucky ones: He has a representative in the U.K.

“I am concerned and sad that there are hundreds of children that simply have no one. They are vulnerable to traffickers. The conditions are terrible and by no means is the jungle empty. Children are sleeping on the path outside of the containers in the rain, without shelter. Amber Rudd must take responsibility: the children need to be processed, registered and given safe passage as soon as possible.”

Asylum Aid spoke to Matt Barbet of Channel 5 News on Monday 24 October about what is next for the residents of the camp, and how the UK should be playing a role in the wider refugee crisis.



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