The French government has announced its intention to bulldoze the the precarious homes of the most marginalised people on our planet, living as they do in makeshift shanties, tenuous tents and donated caravans in the Calais camp at the edge of Europe, in desperate hope of hopping a lorry to find a better life in the UK.
Amongst the Calais community live the most vulnerable of all, some 800 unaccompanied refugee children, of whom, according to Citizens UK, 387 have legitimate claims to asylum here in the UK owing to having family here or under the terms of the Lord Dubs amendment to the Immigration bill. The children’s commissioners of both France and the UK have called on the French government to insure that the children are housed and on the UK government to admit the unaccompanied asylum seeking children from the camp and fulfil its pledge to admit 3,000 of the estimated 90,000 unaccompanied refugee children from across Europe. At present the main French charity working to house unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), France terre d’asile is turning away up to 35 children a day because its centre is full. The Calais children are at great risk of being trafficked. They will be at greater risk if the camp is broken up and no housing provided. It is a disgrace that the government has been dragging its feet on these promises for months. It will be a tragedy, no, a crime, if it fails to act now with winter on the way.