Below is a short briefing paper, four pages long, prepared by the Greater Manchester Immigration and Aid Unit on the minors from Calais who have arrived in the Greater Manchester region.
It describes Reception Conditions in the United Kingdom and the difficulties encountered by the children subject to them. In doing so, it is useful both for our own understanding of the situation, and as a source for the information we give minors about what they should expect on the other side of the Channel.
It also describes the psychological scars many of these children may bear as a result of violence experienced during their journeys, most particularly in Calais. Among these latter, there is the destruction of the shantytown itself – their home – and the ensuing stress among children sent to CAOMI (French Reception and Orientation Centres for minors – see here, here, here, here and here) where they often linger in complete uncertainty about their futures. The paper also provides information important for our perception of the situation at the border. Of the 40 minors from Calais who found their way to the GMIAU from January to February 2017, 18 crossed the border legally within the context of established procedures, while 22 crossed over illegally. In the cases of those children who entered legally, we are operating within the context of procedures established by the Home Office at the time of the Calais encampment’s destruction. However we are also working in a context in which both French and British authorities insist that the border is sealed and impossible to cross illegally.
The situation raises questions. Even when British authorities put extraordinary procedures in place permitting minors to legally enter British territory, more than half of the 40 minors discussed in the GMIAU’s briefing entered illegally.
And yet, at the same time, if nearly half the minors were allowed legal entry into British territory on the basis of criteria linked to both EU legislation (Dublin III) and a decision taken by the British parliament (the Dubs amendment (in French)), shouldn’t the maintenance of procedures then established be permanent?
However, today, nothing is in place that would allow unaccompanied, minor exiles stuck in Calais access to procedures leading to their legal entry into the United Kingdom. Today, the only possibility open to them is to hide themselves in lorries.
You can download the GMIAU’s briefing letter (in English) here.
Richard Estes : The Ice Cream Truck.