The government was probably against the creation of a Grande-Synthe refugee camp because it would give greater visibility to the rights violations there. In Calais, minors who are returning then hide, while seeking opportunities, coming back or moving away. Their invisibility facilitates their exclusion from the field of law.

At Grande-Synthe refugee camp as they were in the Calais shantytown, they are visible, and information has already begun to circulate concerning their situation.

Faced with the lack of reaction of the public authorities after numerous interpellations, the Cimade has published an open letter to the President of the Conseil Départemental (county council), responsible for the protection of children in the department.

You can download the Cimade’s open letter here.

“Mr. Jean-René Lecerf
President of the Conseil départemental du Nord
Hotel of the Department
51 rue Gustave Delory
59047 Lille Cedex

Lille, 13 December 2016


Monsieur le President,

The Cimade wishes to draw your attention once again to the disturbing situation of unaccompanied minors present on the Linière camp at Grande Synthe and more generally on the coast of Dunkirk.

Our team, which intervenes on the camp in order to offer legal assistance to minors who intend to join their families legally under the European regulation Dublin III, has observed the presence of a number of foreign minors who have no legal representative.

On October 5, 2016, the Cimade sent this concerning information to the Departmental Council concerning 28 minors, which were duplicated with reports to the public prosecutors of the Republic of Dunkirk and Lille: a foreign minor without a representative on the national territory is indisputably in danger. To date, we have had no return of your services.

We have then personally alerted you, by letter on October 19th, 2016, to the fact that despite this information, no special care was offered to unaccompanied minors presenting on the camp.

Once again, we informed you of this information on 24th October concerning 30 unaccompanied minors on the camp, another information on the 1st of December concerning a minor, potentially the victim of trafficking and, on the 5th December, 24 new pieces of information of concern (all together with reports to the Public Prosecutor).

The Cimade team has observed, since its intervention on the camp and until today, that unaccompanied minors remain there under extremely difficult conditions. These young people are left to their own devices, and for some they try to pass through England every night, during which they risk their lives. Their vulnerability is reinforced by the presence of networks of smugglers, who, as can be assumed, exert pressure on all Exiles, a fortiori on minors.

It can not simply be given as a response to send minors to “CAOMIE”, as was improvised for 15 minors (told the day before) in November 2016. Indeed, this ad hoc scheme created in the the rush to dismantle the shantytown Calais is not in conformity with the provisions of the protection of children (there is no evaluation by the Conseil Départemental after five days of shelter) and questioned about special procedures put in place by the United Kingdom , different from the Dublin III Regulation, concerning family reunification.

We reiterate our call for a mechanism to provide support for this vulnerable public, such as, for example, a reference point where, at least, measures should be taken to accommodate minors who so wish, appropriate information in a language they understand and then appropriate care, in particular concerning legal accompaniment (towards an entry into the child welfare system in France or towards a reunification procedure with their family settled in England) . The Linière camp could thus enable the departmental council to identify these minors in danger, who are very rarely under the radar of the authorities, logically with regard to their migratory journey.

Being confronted with non-francophone minors, and for some of them, whose wandering and project to go to England make them more vulnerable, reinforces their need for clear information on a scheme they misunderstand, which can sometimes lead to difficulties of adhesion. Without a proactive approach to the issue, it is feared that these minors will quickly return to underground and wandering, subject for some of them to mafia networks and that France will once again be accused for its ill treatment of non-accompanied minors in exile.

We are of course at your disposal to meet you and provide you with any clarifications or additional information you may find useful.
Given the importance of the issues involved in this issue, you will understand that we wish to give wide publicity to this letter.

We ask you, Mr. President, to believe in our full consideration.
Jean-Marie Rausenberg
President of the Cimade region Nord-Picardie

Copy to :
– The Mayor of Grande Synthe
– The Prefect of the North
– The Sub-prefect of Dunkirk
1 In this regard, we would like to remind you of the terms of the communiqué issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on November 2nd, 2016: “Failures in managing the situation of children in Calais are not isolated events, Of an inadequate migration system based on policies that have developed and been implemented without taking into consideration the rights of the child (…). It is essential that steps be taken to ensure that these children have the support they need to recover from what they have experienced. “