“Barbaric and cruel”: 1,500 children waiting to enter UK finally turned away

02/11/2016
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Calais children make art in protest at being ‘Hung out to dry’ by UK and French authorities

CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the final expulsion of vulnerable children from the Calais refugee camp as “barbaric and cruel”.

One thousand five hundred juveniles are being bussed out from the camp to be distributed at processing centres ac

ross France, having been finally turned back from the border with the UK.

The children face a dangerous and uncertain future with the end of their hope for refuge in the UK.

Shetland Solidarity with Refugees activist Kaila McCulloch, who managed to transport a van full of aid to the refugees despite French police closing the border to prevent an aid convoy from entering, told CommonSpace of her “terror” at the developments.

“What is happening is barbaric and cruel.

“The idea of these 'processing centres' fills me with terror. Hideous that we as human beings can't show some compassion and put out our hand to help.”

Calais children make paper cut-outs of themselves ‘hung out to dry’ by authorities

Care for Calais volunteers, who have remained in the camp to help with the needs of children and other refugees, all of whom have fled war, poverty, climate change or political repression helped children at the camp make one final artistic expression of protest.

Hours before being bussed out, the juveniles made paper cut-outs of children and laid them out along camp fences to represent their being ‘hung out to try’ by French authorities and the UK Government.

A Care for Calais statement on the final defiant act said: “This was a very poignant last workshop with the children, as this reminds us of how 'throw-away' their lives are seen by so many people.”

The campaigners also held out hope that some children could still make it to the UK through applications from French processing centres. It is understood under 14 year-olds will be prioritised for possible transfer to the UK.

However, the expulsion of the children from the demolished camp, which has been pulled down to prevent refugees re-entering it, represents a blow to campaigners efforts to secure a safe future for children, many of whom suffer from profound mental health difficulties as a result of trauma.

Children desperate to enter the UK will face new dangers

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other child protection organisations have warned that vulnerable refugee children are being targeted for sexual exploitation and other abuses as a result of not being settled in a single location.

The UK has trailed far behind other European countries in taking on and protecting desperate refugees.

The UK has taken in just a few hundred juveniles from the Calais camp and has otherwise refused to take refugees from continental Europe, which has seen as many as two million people flee war and social collapse in the Middle East and Africa since 2014.

Picture courtesy of Oxfam International

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