accessibility & help

Real risks for children in Calais following closure of the Jungle

28 October 2016

The British Red Cross is extremely concerned to hear reports of children sleeping rough following the demolition of the Calais Jungle.

We believe that demolition should only have started after every child was accounted for and given a safe place to stay.

The operation to clear the camp began earlier this week. A steady stream of buses carrying hundreds of people departed for other parts of France. The aim is to relocate around 10,000 people in centres where they can be formally registered. 

At present, unaccompanied minors are the only group staying in Calais. However, it appears that hundreds of young people outside the camp’s secure area have not yet been registered.

Alex Fraser, our director of refugee support, said:

“Many of the children who remain in Calais have a legal right to come to the UK, but there is now a real risk some will disappear, when they should have been brought to safety.

“The UK government should be urging the French government in the strongest terms to ensure that no child is left without shelter tonight.”

“We are very relieved that many of these children are now here and settling into their new homes, including the first arrivals under the Dubs Amendment. However, we cannot forget about the hundreds who remain in France who potentially have the right to come here.”

In the week leading up to the closure, around 300 unaccompanied minors who had a legal right to come to the UK were brought here. More children will make the journey in the coming days and weeks.

The Red Cross is providing specialist volunteers as part of the operation to bring these children to the UK. We are also helping children throughout the transfer process.

Children of the Jungle entitled to care

Unaccompanied minors in Calais are legally entitled to safe refuge in the UK under two distinct legal routes. The Dublin III regulation – an EU law setting out member states’ responsibilities around asylum seeker applications, and the ‘Dubs Amendment’ to the UK immigration bill.

Under the Dublin III regulation, family unity takes precedence over other criteria (such as where a person entered the EU). This means that unaccompanied minors with family members already seeking asylum in the UK have the right to join their relatives and claim asylum in the same country.

The ‘Dubs Amendment’ to the UK immigration bill, led by Lord Alf Dubs, applies to unaccompanied minors without family in the UK. British law now offers safe refuge in the UK to unaccompanied children provided it is in the children’s best interests.

In practice, those unaccompanied minors without family links to the UK are eligible to be transferred from Calais, provided they entered Europe on or before 20 March 2016.

  • The British Red Cross is the largest provider of support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. We have been working with Safe Passage UK to facilitate the transfer of unaccompanied children to the UK from Calais.
  • From Calais to the UK - a view from the window.

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