Child refugees in France record plea to Theresa May: 'Please let me see my brother in the UK'

Unaccompanied minors who formerly lived in the Calais 'Jungle' beg UK Government to let them reunite with family in Britain following Home Office rejections 

May Bulman
Thursday 23 February 2017 20:16
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Calais's refugee children have a message for the UK government

Child refugees who were formerly residents of the Calais "Jungle" have recorded a desperate plea for Prime Minister Theresa May to help them after suffering months in limbo since the demolition of the camp.

The youngsters, many of whom have family in Britain, can be heard begging the UK Government to let them come to Britain, with pleas of "I have my brother and sister in the UK. Please help me" and "Please keep your promise".

Recorded by refugee charity Care4Calais, the video endeavours to give a voice to child refugees in France who had hoped to come to the UK legally, after hundreds were rejected by the Home Office in the months since October with little or no reason given.

The children, most of whom are aged between 14 and 17, are among around 1,900 unaccompanied minors who were removed from the “Jungle” during its demolition and subsequently dispersed to accommodation across France, where they were told they would be processed for the chance to seek asylum in the UK.

While Home Office officials visited many of the centres in the months that followed, interviews were reportedly carried out quickly and without care, with the interviewers in some cases not even taking the phone numbers of the children's family, leaving no way of establishing ties. Hundreds of children were subsequently rejected with little or no reason given.

Shortly afterwards, the UK Government announced that it is to end the Dubs Amendment scheme, which sought to bring vulnerable child refugees in Europe to safety in the UK, sparking furore from human rights campaigners and charities.

One child recorded in the film, 16-year-old Elias, tells of how he recently broke both of his legs trying to cross to the UK. “I am a minor. Please, I need help from the Government," he says.

“I broke two of my legs to try get to the UK. Please help me, I want to ask for asylum in the UK. Thank you.”

Benny Hunter, a volunteer from charity Help Refugees who has been working with Elias, told The Independent: “I met Elias in Le Havre where he was sent after the closure of the camp in Calais. He was living with other minors in an apartment block — barely looked after by the state and provided with very little food.

“It's horrific that he has been so injured by his desperate attempts to reach the UK. Elias is a bright and always upbeat teenage boy.

“His positivity seems to have even withstood his injury — but I can imagine the pain that he is internalising and what will happen to him and the other children if they continue to try to reach the UK by clandestine routes.”

Charlotte Maxwell, the volunteer who produced the video, told The Independent: “I was working with the minors in Calais during the demolition and they were all promised they would undergo a proper process to seek asylum in the UK and be considered under the Dubs Amendment.

“They were made that promise. When it closed I got all these phone calls from minors saying it didn’t make sense because they were in the same situation as many of those who were accepted. The Government didn’t offer any real reasons to either them or their families in the UK.

“Journalists come and go on this issue, but I realised it might be really useful to get the minors to record a message themselves and have their voices heard."

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