Saturday, September 23The Voice of London

As ‘The Jungle’ camp is demolished London councils step in to help

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has revealed to the Voice of London it will settle 15 children from Calais camp. But are other councils doing enough?

Reporter: Shingirai Mupfupi | Sub-editor: Abigail Megan Widya

The Council has already settled five children and is currently waiting for the other 10 children to be allocated to them by Home Office.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesman told Voice of London that the council had signed up to settle 15 children. It has already settled five children and is currently waiting for the other 10 children to be allocated to them by Home Office.

On its website it states: “The government has promised to help these children. So we’re saying loud and clear that we’re ready and waiting for the Home Office to do the right thing.”

Many British people in London are sympathetic to these minors and support the idea of settling them all. In London, not all council have offered to take these minors from Calais and for those who signed out to help them have already written to the government asking for more help.

Although, none of London Boroughs have said no to the request of taking unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) London Councils, a body that represents all 32 London boroughs and the City of London confirmed to VOL that in reality, some have already reached 0.07% of UASC to general child population and so they could not be called on to help with additional arrivals. But the willingness is there.

The problem goes back to deep cuts started in 2010. Many councils are struggling to survive with the current budgets they have. But the problem of Calais minor need to be eradicated sooner rather than later.

The Liberal Democrats support the idea of bringing many minors into UK and they are blaming the government for not doing enough to help these children affected by the destruction of the Calais camp.

On their website, Liberal Democrats leader, Tim Farron said: “While Theresa May and Francois Hollande try to pass the buck, refugee children are sleeping rough in the streets of Calais. It should not be this difficult for two of the world’s richest countries to provide refuge to a few hundred vulnerable children.”

The handling of this matter has caused an international outburst. According to UN websites, UN experts said that French and UK Governments fell well short of their child rights obligations.

In a press release statement, they said: “The events of the past week have shown clearly that political and other considerations prevailed over the initial promises by both Governments that the situation of unaccompanied children would be their priority. The best interests of the child have been completely disregarded.”

Last week Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the House of Commons that the government sort ‘every opportunity to expedite the process to transfer children to UK.’

She also said that Home Office official had interviewed 800 children in the camp who claimed to have close families in the UK.

Calais-Jungle
Credit: The Japan Times

But there is a bickering between France and the UK governments on how many minors British Government should take. Although the UK is prepared to take certain number of these children the country is certainly unable to take every one in.  What will happen to the rest of them?

One volunteer who was at Calais Jungle Camp told the Voice of London: “There are more than 1500 children who are now taken to the centres across France and French authority is saying British government should take them all.”

France removed all immigrants from Calais Jungle and placed all minors to private locations. Only 700 are expected to come to UK.

Jungle camp had been a home for more than 8000 refugees from around the world for many years including unaccompanied minors. Many now had been dispersed around France.

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