You will probably have seen in the news that the French Government is planning to clear the camp in Calais by the end of October. This includes the Jules Ferry Centre, which houses unaccompanied female minors and women with their children. At the moment it is unclear what support there is in place for more than a thousand children, most of them travelling alone. Last time there was an eviction in Calais, 129 children simply disappeared.
The French Government appears to be relying on our Government to honour its commitment to take the 387 children eligible under the ‘Dubs Amendment’ (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/160209-gc0001.htm) and the Dublin III family reunification agreement (http://www.citizensuk.org/family_reunification_the_story_so_far). However, to date no children have been brought over under the Dubs Amendment. Neither has either Government assisted in bringing children here under Dublin III. At least two of these children have died trying to reach family members because they simply lost faith in the official process.
HWSF will be writing to the Leader of the Council to ask what plans there are in place to receive unaccompanied minors in Hertfordshire. In the meantime, there are several ways you can help.
- Email and phone your MP, asking him to raise the matter of unaccompanied minors with the Minister. Remember to include your full postal address. If possible, follow this through with a visit to one of their surgeries. Points you could make:
- There are over 1000 unaccompanied children in Calais, with more arriving each day
- Almost 400 have a legal right to come to the UK but the Government is doing little to assist the process and no children have yet come here as a result of the Dubs Amendment
- These children are vulnerable to violence and trafficking, as Kevin Hyland, the UK’s Anti-Slavery Commissioner, has recently pointed out
- You hope that Hertfordshire will take in unaccompanied minors and are aware there is financial support available for this
- Come to the event at Hertford Quaker Meeting House on Saturday 8th October 19.30-21.30 to hear speakers involved with supporting the refugees in Calais, and donate much-needed goods and cash (including Euros): tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, blankets; small and medium men’s hoodies, sweatshirts, waterproof jackets, jogging pants; woolly hats, scarves, gloves. The Meeting House will also be open on Sunday 9th from 13.30-15.00 for donations. Please only bring items listed.
- Contact Catherine email@example.com (there’s an underscore between cat and hen) by 5th October if you can donate a smart phone or mobile, unlocked and with a charger. No need to provide a sim card. Volunteers at the camp try and provide all unaccompanied children with a mobile. You may have heard of the 7-year-old who managed to save 15 lives by texting from the refrigerated container they were hiding in http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/2016/04/08/media-coverage-of-ahmed-afghan-boy-saved-after-he-texted-no-oxygen-to-volunteer/
- If you are thinking about fostering a child refugee, please contact the County Fostering Servicehttp://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/healthsoc/childfam/fostadoptsharedcare/newfostering/ and let us know, as it will help demonstrate support when we ask the County to accept more child refugees.
Catherine and the HWSF Committee