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Calais 'Jungle': 129 unaccompanied children missing since refugee camp demolition

'This is simply not acceptable,' said the charity Help Refugees UK

Peter Yeung
Saturday 02 April 2016 17:41 BST
A child’s stuffed bear lies abandoned at the Jungle in Calais as French authorities move to clear the camp.
A child’s stuffed bear lies abandoned at the Jungle in Calais as French authorities move to clear the camp. (AP)

More than a hundred unaccompanied children have gone missing since the southern section of the Calais “Jungle” was demolished last month.

According to a census by Help Refugees UK, 129 unaccompanied minors from the camp have gone unaccounted for. The census found that since the demolition took place in March, 4,946 refugees are still living there, including 1,400 in the shipping containers set up by the French government.

The refugee charity said it was “very concerned” at the findings. It wrote in a Facebook post: “This is simply not acceptable. We call on the French authorities to put systems in place immediately to register and safeguard the remaining 294 lone children in the camp.”

“No alternative accommodation was provided for unaccompanied minors during the evictions, no assessment was made by the French authorities of their needs and no systems put in place to monitor them or provide safeguarding. There is no official registration system for children in place In Calais or Dunkirk.”

Help Refugees UK added it had shared this information with the UK children’s commissioner Anne Longfield and her French counterpart Genevieve Avenard.

According to the EU police agency Europol, more than 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared in Europe in the last two years. Aid workers are concerned at the deteriorating safety conditions and told The Independent teenage boys are being raped in the camp.

Libby Freeman, founder of grassroots campaign Calais Action, told The Independent the findings were “shocking”. Ms Freeman said: “Nobody knows where these vulnerable children have ended up.

“Since the closure [and relocation] of the Women's and Children's centre, they have been uprooted. With so many children missing, it’s difficult not to think the worst. It’s more than irresponsible.

Migrants sew lips shut

“And many of the minors have a legal right to join their family in the UK. The government should stop [delaying] the law.”

In total, there are 4946 refugees in the Calais camp. There are 4432 adults and 514 children, of whom 294 are unaccompanied minors. Out of that number 1400 adults are living in the containers, 170 women and children in Jules Ferry and 3376 inhabitants in the main camp area living in tents and shelters. In total there are 514 children, 294 of them are unaccompanied.

The average age of the minors in camp is 14.2 with the youngest just one month old. The youngest unaccompanied child is eight-years-old.

You can support the work of Help Refugees UK by donating here.

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