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Hundreds of children in Calais at risk as bulldozers move in

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

As bulldozers move in to demolish the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, Save the Children is warning that hundreds of unaccompanied children still have not been able to register and have nowhere safe to stay. Staff on the ground say children need to be to be moved to a secure area immediately, as the situation is increasingly volatile and tense.

Unaccompanied minors have to register with the authorities before they can be moved to the ‘container’ camp, a fenced-off area that has been allocated for children to stay in shipping containers while the rest of the Jungle is destroyed. About 800 children have already been moved into this area, but registration closed at approximately 12.30pm local time with dozens of children left outside and no further information given.

Dorothy Sang, a Save the Children aid worker in the camp, said: “Refugees and unaccompanied children have been queuing in a calm and orderly way so far, but there’s a huge amount of confusion and lack of information. In the last hour the situation has become increasingly tense.

“There is a massive police presence here and diggers appear to be moving into the camp now, so it’s potentially very frightening for the children who don’t have a place to stay yet.”

Save the Children is also concerned about the children who are in the ‘container camp’, which child protection charities have not been able to access. As the main camp is demolished around them, vulnerable children will lose access to the adults and services which have supported them.

Kevin Watkins, Save the Children CEO, said: “The French authorities’ demolition of the Calais jungle is being rushed through without due care being taken to protect extremely vulnerable children. This is a dereliction of responsibility which is exposing children to acute risks.

“When a part of the camp was demolished earlier this year, 129 children went missing. We don’t know what happened to them. There is every chance that this could happen again but on a bigger scale. We are urging the authorities to halt the demolition until they have registered and are protecting the more than a 1,000 children in the camp.

“We are really pleased to see a significant number of unaccompanied children from Calais being given a safe haven in the UK, but are deeply concerned for the fate of hundreds of children who remain.”

Save the Children has been working with the Refugee Youth Service in Calais to set up information points across the camp today along the path that children should be taking to the registration point. However with no clear guidance from the authorities it is unclear where to send children tonight, or what the process will be tomorrow.


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