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Child Refugees Protest As Home Office Stops Taking Dubs Amendment Kids Amid Calais Camp Demolition

Camp demolition is proving 'extremely distressing and confusing'.

24/10/2016 19:31
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
Actress Joely Richardson (left) with Labour peer Lord Dubs (right) and children dressed as Paddington Bear outside the Home Office

Children dressed as Paddington Bear outside the Home Office during a demonstration to call for protection for those still in the Calais camp as it is demolished.

The demonstration happened on Monday afternoon, just as the Home Office suspended the process of bringing more unaccompanied children here.

On Monday, French authorities began to demolish The Jungle camp where thousands of migrants and refugees have lived for months in squalid conditions as they try to reach Britain.

Among them are 49 unaccompanied children, who are eligible to come to Britain under the Dubs Amendment, named for Labour peer and former child refugee Lord Dubs.

The Home Office has temporarily halted its efforts to bring the children to the UK at the request of French authorities. The first children to come under the Dubs Amendment only arrived on Saturday.

On Monday afternoon, Lord Alf Dubs was joined by actresses Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson with people dressed as the famous refugee bear.

As they gathered, alarm spread in Calais over the Home Office decision.

Help Refugees, a charity that works extensively in the camp, said on Monday afternoon the 49 unaccompanied children were all under 13. 

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A 16-year-old from Ethiopia cries as waits to register at a processing centre at The Jungle on Monday as authorities began evacuating and dismantling the camp
Philippe Wojazer / Reuters
Police stand near as migrants with their belongings queue near barriers at the start of their evacuation

The Dubs Amendment calls for Britain to take lone children who do not necessarily have family ties to the UK and are under 13, girls or orphans who are fleeing warzones and had reached the EU by March 20.

Help Refugees said the demolition was “extremely distressing and confusing” for the children.

People living in shipping containers by the camp had to leave at 7am, including unaccompanied children, despite an understanding they would be able to stay there until they were brought to Britain, the charity said on Monday afternoon.

“There are also many unaccompanied girls remaining in camp who are eligible to come to the UK but who were not registered over the weekend,” a spokesman said.

“This chaotic set up is extremely distressing and confusing for the lone minors, the youngest of which is 8 years old,according to our last census. The younger children are struggling to understand where they are supposed to go, and how they are supposed to get there.”

Citizens UK, which has helped bring many children from Calais under family re-unification laws, said the demonstration outside the Home Office was to “highlight the Capital’s history of welcoming children fleeing war and conflict”.

It comes after London Councils announced they would take in over 100 unaccompanied children under the Dubs amendment.

Citizens UK warned there were as many as 1,000 children who were “at a serious risk of disappearing in the chaos” of the camp demolition.

In its final census of the camp, Help Refugees found the number of unaccompanied children had risen from 1,022 to 1,291, despite a 20% drop in the population ahead of the demolition, which is expected to last all week.

  • Peter Nicholls / Reuters
  • Peter Nicholls / Reuters
    Actress Joely Richardson at the demonstration
  • Peter Nicholls / Reuters
  • Reuters Photographer / Reuters
  • Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
    Vanessa Redgrave at the demo
  • Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
    A young girl dressed as Paddington Bear attends a Citizens UK event outside the Home Office in London, to welcome the arrival of the first child refugees as the Calais 'jungle' demolition begins.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the House of Commons on Monday afternoon that the UK had taken in 200 children from Calais, including 60 girls at risk of sexual exploitation.

She blamed the French government for the delay in bringing over children without family ties to the UK, and said that “several more hundred” would arrive in the next three weeks.

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