Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba And Helena Bonham Carter Among Stars Asking David Cameron To Help Calais Children

18/02/2016 21:28 | Updated 18 February 2016

Actors Idris Elba, Helena Bonham Carter, and Benedict Cumberbatch are among 145 stars calling on David Cameron to help save children based at the Jungle camp in Calais.

They have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister asking the Government to step in and allow unaccompanied children living in the Jungle to be reunited with their families in the UK.

The plea comes as French authorities prepare to demolish the southern part of the Jungle on Monday, a move that would destroy temporary homes of more than 3,000 people.

helena bonham carter

Over 100 celebrities have signed the letter

This section of the camp is predominantly occupied by unaccompanied children and families.

Figures from Help Refugees show that there are 440 children living in this section of the camp, 291 of whom are unaccompanied, the Press Association reported.

The letter, which has been signed by over 500 people, states: "This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible."

the jungle

A boy watching a play at 'The Jungle'

Charity Citizens UK has identified hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Calais who have valid legal claims to have their asylum applications processed in the UK.

The first of these cases was heard in the UK courts last month, with the court ruling the children should legally be reunited with family in the UK while their asylum cases were processed.

One of the signatories, Jude Law, said: "Last week I visited the camp, and met some of these unaccompanied children who have no choice but to endure the horrific conditions of the Jungle.

"These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them. David Cameron and the British Government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis."

The letter reads in full:

Dear David Cameron,

The recent announcement by the Calais prefecture to raze the Southern part of the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais is an act that if allowed to happen, will destroy the temporary homes of over a 1000 people. Many of these people are amongst the most vulnerable in the camps as this is where the majority of families and unaccompanied minors currently live.

Such an enforced move would uproot again those who have already had to abandon their homes due to war and persecution. The eviction also threatens vital community facilities built and run by the residents and volunteers including the Women and Children’s Centre, the Youth Centre, three mosques, one Orthodox church, three classrooms, the camp’s only library, the Good Chance Theatre, the Legal Centre, the Vaccination Centre and three crucial distribution centres for aid and food. These spaces offer much-needed respite and comfort for all those living in the intensely difficult conditions within the camp.

We, the undersigned, a number of whom have seen first-hand the refugee camps in the last few days, urge the British government to do three things:

1) To create an expedited process for the implementation of Dublin III’s family reunion provisions so that all minors who are currently residing in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk with family connections in the UK are able to reunite with their loved ones with immediate effect.

2) To ensure that those minors who have no legal right to come to the UK are protected and supported within France and that the French child protection process is also expedited to afford them the protection they are entitled to.

3) To persuade the French authorities that the decision to destroy further parts of the camp in Calais is postponed until all the minors currently residing there are either given child protection within the French system or enabled to reunite with their loved ones in Britain.

We believe the above actions are the absolute minimum that the British government should be taking to alleviate the suffering of the refugees in Calais, and must be made an urgent priority. The British charities, Help Refugees and Citizens UK, have already largely identified, screened and begun to process the minors in question.

This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible.

jude law

Jude Law said the government 'must urgently work' to help refugees

Simon Cuff from Citizens UK said that while clearing the Jungle was important, the children living there should not be forgotten.

He continued: "Those with rights to be with their families in the Britain should be reunited with them, those without the right to the UK should receive specialist support and care from the French. Not chased off by police in riot gear.

"We're hugely grateful to all the public figures who've stood up and stepped out to help protect these refugee children.

"Governments need to get in there, bring order to the chaos and create safe legal routes to protect people."

Suggest a correction