With clearance of the refugee camp in Calais now in its final stages, the Children’s Commissioner for England is urging local authorities to support more children who are eligible to come to the UK.
The Commissioner has written to local council chiefs and senior politicians to reiterate the urgency of finding as many places and support packages as possible for children from Calais.
Over 200 children have arrived in the UK from Calais through Dublin III arrangements and children have also come to the UK as a result of the Dubs amendment.
The Commissioner, Anne Longfield, thanked local authorities who have already offered places for Calais’ refugee children. While appreciating that local authorities are under financial pressure she urged them to continue to offer more places and for others yet to become involved to do so ‘as a matter of urgency’.
As clearance loomed, the Commissioner recently visited the camp in Calais to see first-hand the work of agencies working there and the conditions children were living in.
Many of the children in the Calais camp have been through terrible ordeals having fled war zones and been separated from parents and other family members. Children arriving in the UK may have complex needs as a result of their experiences and will need specialist support to help them start to recover and rebuild their lives.
Department for Education and NGO training resources are available to support local authorities, as well as additional funding.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said: “There is an urgent need to support the unaccompanied children arriving from Calais. I’d urge all local authorities in every part of the country to do all they can for these extremely vulnerable children who have already been through so much.
“I hope in the coming days that many more UK councils will find capacity to offer places and support. Meanwhile, there is a moral and humanitarian imperative on French authorities to ensure the safety of all children in the camp.
“Unconfirmed reports from the site today of unaccompanied children in the camp being turned away because temporary container accommodation is full are extremely worrying. If verified, they underline the desperate situation these children are in.”