On 28 October the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre called on the French Consul in Edinburgh with a letter to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve demanding France protect children who slept rough following demolition of the Calais camp.
We had delivered a letter ten days previously calling on France to protect the children before demolishing the camp but received no reply. With reports today more than one hundred children had slept rough, that many had fled the camp in fear and that more than one thousand children are now being housed in metal containers after the demolition of the camp we decided to take further action we concluded that France – and the UK – have failed in their duty to protect provide special protection to these children, and in particular to provide shelter, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
A copy of the letter can be read here.
We were told that the Consul was not available. That we must email to make an appointment to see the Consul General, that the function of the Consulate is only to look after the needs of French citizens living in Edinburgh. But in the end it was agreed that a copy of our letter would be forwarded to the Embassy in London.
We wrote yesterday to the Home Office asking the Home Secretary to demand that France insure the protection of the children. To our surprise and delight Home Secretary Amber Rudd did exactly that this morning and it was reported that France was to provide transport for the remaining children to Reception Centres. However, independent observers on the scene including Lady Sheehan were prevented from observing the processing of the children and there remain concerns that some of the children will be taken to detention centres from which they are likely to be deported. We requested that France ensure that the processing of the children be transparent.
In today’s letter we made clear that we are deeply disturbed by the failure of both the UK and France to act in good time to protect these children and that we condemn the mutual blaming that has taken place between the two governments. It is categorically unacceptable that France and the UK have played a political game with these children, many of whom have now been forced to flee and will be at greater risk of harm including possible trafficking.