Last week David Burrowes MP joined a cross party group of MPs, which also included Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Heidi Allen, in a visit to the so called Calais Jungle. It was arranged by Save the Children and focussed on the continued plight of lone chhild refugees, particularly those seeking family reunion in the UK. National media journalists also attended and their reports can be viewed here:
David Burrowes met with child refugees and British and French NGOs and volunteers and saw how progress in reuniting child refugees with families in the UK was still slow and left children vulnerable to violence and trafficking. Approximately 100 children with claims for family reunion to the UK live in the Calais Jungle and 30 are awaiting reunion having had their "take charge" applications accepted. He resolved to put further pressure on the Government to speed up the process and fulfill its commitment last February to provide places for child refugees at risk in Europe.
David Burrowes said " It is heartbreaking that in Calais a few minutes from British families queuing to go back to the UK over 100 lone child refugees are waiting many months to be reunited with families in the UK. We simply must do more to provide a safe passage and sanctuary for children who have had their family reunion claims accepted but are stuck in limbo for many weeks."
"These children are not living in a safe environment. There are no laws in the Calais jungle. Violence intimidation and exploitation are rife in the camp. The 17 year old Syrian refugee whom I spoke to had recently been injured in the cross fire of a fight between Afghan and Somali adults. He has no friends and no family in the camp and is frightened and alone as he waits to be reunited with his uncle and cousin in Willesden. I am pressing the Government to accept responsibility for these children and take all necesssary practical steps to reunite these vulnerable children with their families. I have a meeting with the Immigration Minister next Monday and will be presenting a package of recommendations from me and UNICEF and Save the Children to break the impasse and give these vulnerable children their refuge with their families in the UK. It will be a good test of the new Givernment's commitment to the vulnerable and disadvantaged."
"French politicians are busy jockeying for political positions to wash their hands of responsibility for refugees in the Calais jungle. But they should spend more time working with the UK Government to reunify child refugees with their families in the UK and provide more safety to vulnerable women and child refugees. The 72 places to be provided at a nearby centre by a French charity is too little and too late to deal with the scale of this human catastrophe. Less politics and more compassion is what is needed in Calais."
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