Who are the unaccompanied children?
There are approximately 1000 unaccompanied children at Calais Jungle camp in France. As the date of the ‘dismantling’ of this camp approaches there are grave concerns being raised by many of the NGO’s working there. Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Act, was passed in March of this year in which the U.K. agreed to allow unaccompanied children to travel to England from refugee camps all over Europe. However it has been a long and slow wait for many with only a fraction of the unaccompanied children in the U.K. It wasn’t until mid October 2016 that any significant effort was made to remove these vulnerable children to the safety of the U.K.
What does a 10-year-old living alone in the migrant camp in Calais worry about most? Abdul is bothered by the rats that rustle around him while he sleeps. He is frightened of the local police who often spray teargas at him. Most of all he worries about his nine-year-old nephew, who is solely his responsibility, and who is struggling to cope with their five-month flight from violence in Afghanistan.
Mohammed, nine, worries about how he is going to find a pair of shoes. His cousin Ahmed, 12, worries about Mohammed, and about a third cousin, nine, who went missing last week. He is also anxious about how to conceal his unhappiness from his parents, when he speaks to them on the phone in Afghanistan. They sold half their land to send him, the oldest child, away from ISIS to safety in England.
Why are they on their own?
Many of the children are sent by their parents in order to escape the Taliban or ISIS. The outrageous amount charged by people smugglers forces parents to sell whatever they can and to choose from among their children who should have the better opportunity in life. What a terrible decision to have to make as a parent. Other children have lost parents, siblings and friends on the treacherous trip to Calais.
What is their daily life like?
Many of the children’s days centre around preparing for the night ahead when they will spend several hours trying to hide out on lorries as they queue at the Channel Tunnel. They are unable to attend any of the pop up schools as they are too tired from their previous nights’ activity. Fear and disillusionment emanates from these young people.Humiliation, abuse and teargas and that’s from the French police.
What are their hopes and dreams? Have they any left?
Where are they now that the Calais Camp has been dismantled?
Could they be among the 1,500 unaccompanied minors still in temporary accommodation at Calais?
Who is taking responsibility for these young people?