Joint statement on Calais refugee camp by Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England and Geneviève Avenard, France’s Children’s Commissioner
There are still hundreds of vulnerable children within the Calais camp who have not been properly identified and registered by French authorities, or French charities working on their behalf. This includes children who may be eligible to come to the UK under Dublin III, or potentially under the Dubs amendment.
It is essential the children are protected and accommodated before the eviction process starts. A proper procedure must be used to identify and register the children who should be provided temporary accommodation at the site in Calais. They should then be allowed to remain there until plans are in place for them to move on – either to the UK or to suitable accommodation in France. The authorities should also confirm who will be responsible for putting in place transport, and accompanying the children onward to placement in the UK or France.
While we support the closure of the camp, which is no place for any child, the clearance of the camp must happen in a way which has the safety of the estimated 1200 children living there at its heart. Given that the identification and protection of all these children is far from complete it is essential the French authorities urgently accommodate them before closure of the camp, which is due to start over the next few days.
The last time a section of the camp was cleared, around 130 children went missing, with it feared some may have fallen into the hands of traffickers. We must not have a repeat of this with many more children put in danger.