As promised an update! Sorry its taken so long, Ive been in Calais, 5th time, then back last week and dealing with real life (!) and logging and editing the early material for 2 events, WHEN WORDS FAIL (Goldsmiths Theatre and Film event last week) and I AM HUMAN- PRECARIOUS JOURNEYS, an installation that previews at Senate House as part of the national BEING HUMAN festival this Thurs 17th Nov , then has its drinks,lecture and launch at St James Hatcham gallery, New Cross, this Friday 18th at 7pm, then runs over the weekend until Sunday night at Hatcham Gallery.
I filmed with ITN up to the end of Calais Jungle, and also of course with my own crew. Whats happened now is that:
– The French set up registraton for everyone in the Jungle but omitted to tell anyone that (except the world’s media who turned up with their expensive OB vans, scarily long lenses and Dad’s Army style tin helmets, in prodigious numbers, ) .. registration was off site and may of h young people especailly the girls are intimidated by such processes, and journeys, and crowds.. barriers crasjed several times, dangerous organisation. So the result was that many but not all of the lone under 18s registered – also some were turned away as queues too long, then came back later in the week to find registration point had vanished. Others never got there at all.
– During the week of Oct 24th, the French bussed about 4000 adults and fmailies to other areas of France (this doesn’t mean they have the right to asylum in France, but they will at least be housed while their applicatons are considered.
– Meanwhile the under 18s were gradually moved ito the ‘container’ area of camp as the rest of camp was burnt down aorund them. The containers in one way are better- dry, and more importantly, everyone s finally LOGGED and their NAME TAKEN DOWN so they EXIST (HURRAH).. But there were up to 20 in a container and no heating , also no food in that enclosure, kids forced to queue for makeshift food distributed on road outside. Plus those who ahd not manahed to register had to sleep in the very cold and foggy dunes outside the fence of the containers as their tents all gone so they had nothing at all. Have pics of that. Heartbreaking.
– Our lawyers and other lawyers have been mantaining contact with their clients, and because of this , several hundred children have now got to the UK under Dubs Amendment or Dublin 3. (mainly the latter).
However what this process threw up was that contrary to the HO saying originaly there were no lone under 18s in camp, then that there were 387, there were finally counted as 1562- and President Hollande raitifed this when he annouced it publicly and said to the UK, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER AND HELP- as at least est. 700 of these have the legal right to come to UK under Dublin 3.
– I filmed the kids we had got to know well, and we watched as they were bussed off from the containers end of last week, to other parts of France, into childrens’ accommodation.
– On each bus were two UK “Detention officers” (guess what, its illegal to detain under 18s) whose job was apparetly to ‘assess their cases” while on the bus! The idea that 2 low-level security officers make life-changing assessments of 50 childrens’ lives/ages/ legal cases and so on, without interpreters and without independent witneses or social workers present, contravenes about 15 protocols and is actionable. In the UK the assessment process would last for weeks – It wouldnt happen to cold tired and traunatised kids on a bus journey to who knows where (some were on buses for 15 hours) and they’d had no food that day before they left, they were freezing and hungry.
– The job of the campaign and the film is now to keep tracj fo the kids and put pressure both governmental and legal on the UK govt to properly and honourbaly settle all the cases, and film/record this process too.. Thats why I called the film A CASE TO ANSWER- it will come to this, and while its a less dramatic stage of the filming, its equally as improtant, as whatever is established with the Calais chilren will in many ways provide a precedent for other conflictual situations in which the remaining 85,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Europe, find themselves.
Project- wise, I ned to fim the legal and political phase now which is less expensie and intense than the Jungle but still a cost nonetheess. I aim to finish the film by Xmas or not long after, and it be used as above to support the ongoing battle to highlight the larger issues across Eurpe of such children lacsking support and representation.
In short- We won inasmuch as we got the kids listed and named and France acknowledged their exitence.
The ongoing fight is that just because the kids are temporarly hosued elsewhere in France, this must not be swept under the carpet nor must they be quietly deported back to their countries, or cynically and wrongly age -assessed, or that the UK do yet another dirty deal with France to offshore the issue.
I know a lot else is gong on to distract people right now, but please all share this page among all your contacts, and ask them to contribute to funding at calais.gebnet.co.uk
In these difficult times, take heart from the fact we ran a campaign and won quite a lot – hard hard work and stressful and not over yet, but did it with your fundng support and your encouragement.
Lets keep going and achieve even more- this film will stand as a test case for all the other children and young people alone in Europe.
Dont let them be forgotten. Give them a voice. Thanks xx