Edinburgh child refugee vigil pressures UK and French action over Calais camp 


Campaigners gather in Edinburgh calling for refuge for unaccompanied children 

THE CHILDREN alone and at risk in the Calais refuge camp should be given protection by the French and UK governments, according to campaigners who held an Edinburgh vigil in their name.  

Humanitarians gathered last night [Tuesday 18 October] on Edinburgh’s Princes street with candles and banners demanding action to protect the unaccompanied children of the Calais camp. 

Gathering signatures for the two nations to uphold their promises to the refugees who have fled to continental Europe, the campaigners warned that a failure to act would deepen the humanitarian crisis and lead to a moral failure to protect the most vulnerable. 

Brian Larkin of Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre said: “129 children have gone missing from Calais since the French government announced plans to demolish the camp and at least three children have died attempting to enter the UK. 

“The UK Government has known about these children since July 2016, but has failed to act. A British Red Cross report found that some children legally entitled to asylum in the UK have been stranded in Calais for as long as 11 months.
“The government has failed to fulfil its promise under the ‘Dubs amendment’ to the Immigration Bill in July to take in thousands of lone children from across Europe. No more children must be lost.

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“We want to send a message to the UK and French governments that we are watching and waiting for them to protect the children and treat all the people there with respect and dignity and to honour their rights. We call too for France to ensure that any children not taken to the UK be sheltered before any move to demolish the camp.”

A group of refugee children were welcomed to the UK from Calais this week – but only 14 people were granted entry by the UK Home Office. 

The lethargic response to the crisis mirrors lacklustre efforts in response to the refugee crisis, which has seen around two million flee to Europe from disasters, war, and climate change in the Middle East and North Africa. 

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Mass protests have taken place across the UK demanding greater action to welcome refugees and oppose racism. 

The Edinburgh vigil campaigners will deliver their letters to the UK Scotland Office and the French consulate in Edinburgh today [Wednesday 19 October].

Picture courtesy of Brian Larkin, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre

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