Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Guardian view on child refugees: too little, too late | Editorial

At last, child refugees are being rescued from the squalor and danger of the Calais camp and brought to Britain. But the process has taken far too long; and even now it is still too slow. This evening, 24 hours after the French government declared “job done”, the home secretary was sending angry messages to her opposite number to demand that children left to sleep rough on the first night were now properly protected. The Home Office is finally grinding into action. But the inaction of both London and Paris, allowing the camp to fester for years, has meant it metastasised into a crisis of inhumanity, devastating for its victims and shaming for the British government.

Many of the people who cross Europe to Calais do so to come to Britain, a country where many have family, where they share a language, and think they have the best chance of getting a job or an education. They are only a tiny number compared with the thousands who find refuge in Germany and Sweden. But the British government still insists that asylum seekers must apply in the first safe country they reach. It argues that admitting asylum seekers through Calais acts as a pull factor, attracting even young and vulnerable children to make a perilous journey from which only people smugglers benefit.

Charities that work in the camps and try to help people with their paperwork believe the inertia comes from the very top of the British government. Even after the Home Office was forced by parliament earlier this year to accept the Dubs amendment allowing in as many as 3,000 unaccompanied minors without family ties in the UK, the decision was taken to work in Greece and Italy among newly arrived refugees, rather than in Calais. While Yvette Cooper, now chair of the home affairs committee, argued that each country should take half the children and teenagers, progress remained near-invisible. Only this month, as domestic political pressure embarrassed French politicians into bulldozing the camp and dispersing its occupants, has the Home Office agreed to take children under the Dubs deal along with those with British family. - Read More
The Guardian view on child refugees: too little, too late | Editorial


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