Tuesday 27 September 2016

Stars urge David Cameron to save children at Calais Jungle camp

Published 18/02/2016 | 18:51

The Jungle refugee camp in Calais (PA)
The Jungle refugee camp in Calais (PA)

Actors Idris Elba, Helena Bonham Carter, and Benedict Cumberbatch are among 145 stars calling on David Cameron to help save children based at the Jungle camp in Calais.

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They have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister asking the Government to step in and allow unaccompanied children living in the Jungle to be reunited with their families in the UK.

The plea comes as the French authorities are due to demolish the southern part of the Jungle on Monday, something which would destroy the temporary homes of over 3,000 people.

This section of the camp is predominantly occupied by unaccompanied children and families.

Figures from Help Refugees show that there are 440 children living in this section of the camp, 291 of whom are unaccompanied.

The letter states: "This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible."

Charity Citizens UK has identified hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Calais who have valid legal claims to have their asylum applications processed in the UK.

The first of these cases was heard in the UK courts last month ,with the court ruling the children should legally be reunited with family in the UK while their asylum cases were processed.

One of the signatories, Jude Law, said: "Last week I visited the camp, and met some of these unaccompanied children who have no choice but to endure the horrific conditions of the Jungle.

"These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them. David Cameron and the British Government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis."

Simon Cuff from Citizens UK said that while clearing the Jungle was important, the children living there should not be forgotten.

He continued: "Those with rights to be with their families in the Britain should be reunited with them, those without the right to the UK should receive specialist support and care from the French. Not chased off by police in riot gear.

"We're hugely grateful to all the public figures who've stood up and stepped out to help protect these refugee children.

"Governments need to get in there, bring order to the chaos and create safe legal routes to protect people."

It comes as eight charities have written an open letter condemning the bulldozing of the southern half of the Jungle.

The organisations say the refugees will effectively be made homeless because no viable alternative accommodation options have been offered.

Founder of UK charity Care4Calais, Clare Moseley, said: "The evictions make no sense. Refugees will not stop coming to Calais - their living conditions will just be so much more inhumane.

"In the last six months UK citizens have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds and hundreds of thousands of man-hours building shelters, schools and community centres, setting up medical facilities, community welfare and art services. If the eviction goes ahead all this will be destroyed and this incredible investment will be wasted."

Press Association

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