Update 29th December 2016

Dear Contributors and friends,
Hope you’ve had a brilliant Festive season! For regular readers (!) you’ll know that we were able to contribute to identifying and bringing to public attention the  (final total) 1900 lone children and young people who were living in Calais Jungle (Calais is a UK border and you, dear UK taxpayer, paid the French to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at these kids when they lived there) –  and I have been lucky enough to be able to lead a campaign and make a film to demonstrate that the majority of these kids have (and had for up to a year prior) the legal right to be in UK -under EU Dublin 3 Regulation that allows lone under 18s in extreme distress  to move forward though Europe to countries where they have close relatives –  and the rest, a moral and lawyers argue,  a legal right to have their cases heard under the Dubs Amendment (the clause of the last UK Immigration Bill that requires the UK government to offer sanctuary to some of those 85,000 lone refugee children in Europe who are this winter facing freezing cold, starvation, exploitation and trafficking.
Many of the Dublin 3 and Dubs unaccompanied minors should have been in the UK a year ago – instead, the UK Government, despite paying the French over £40 million a year to riot-police and wall up Calais, did not go over and simply assess the cases at our (UK border) queue.  Some of the children have died since then, including a 14 year old Afghan boy in September  when we were there, who was eligible under Dublin 3. They have all suffered brutally . This to me is a UK, not a French, breach of morality and humanity, just as much as if  they’d died 25 miles closer in Kent…  We’ve offshored our ‘refugee problem’ to France just as the EU has offshored its ‘refugee problem’ to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
Denying lone children and vulnerable young people their rights, and paying massive sums to France to contain the problem (the equivalent of £40,000 per migrant in Calais) so that the UK government can keep its figures down and look ” tough on immigration” is to me obscene.  In August 2016 the French called the UK’s bluff by saying they’d clear the Jungle and that the British border officials should move the 1000 metres from their Calais posts and sort out the backlog of cases in the Jungle- including the children.  But they never came, and more people suffered and died.

Please contribute here at calais.gebnet.co.uk and see https://www.facebook.com/calaischildren/

Well, some good news since the closure of the Jungle –

a. President Hollande finally acknowledged the existence of 1500 young people and forced the UK to do likewise.The UK accepted 2-300 though continued to insist there were no more than`a   that.
b. The UK and French agreed that the French should temporarily host the rest around France while UK belatedly processed them. The UK did this in the most summary and cynical way, claiming the normal high ground for bringing a few dozen to UK when in fact nearly a thousand had the immediate right to be here.
And then we heard the French were keeping the kids in often barbaric conditions, not the HO-promised “Specialist centres for children” but unstaffed and unsafe empty buildings  with no food or heating.
Well- we’re making headway again! , and have more coverage on the wonderful ITV News,(see http://www.itv.com/news/2016-12-16 and below) but also the press is picking up on this more and more. See the Independent two days ago, account of my last mission to  Dunkerque and Norrent-Fontes http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/calais-refugees-secret-camps-migrants-france-jungle-a7488196.html
And even better, the below news concerns Duncan Lewis the lawyers we work with-  most of the clients mentioned are kids I found in the Jungle and then persuaded DL to come out and sign  up (pro bono) Plus the wonderful Social Workers Without Borders , also pro bono,  came out to do the best interests assessments.  DL is now taking the Home Office to court for their unlawful treatment of these children.
Finally progress!!!  – really excited as this is the first UK/EU standoff since Brexit vote and the HO behaves with such cynicism and disregard for basic human rights. It must be challenged not just on this issue but on all that relate to basic humanity and human rights: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/28/calais-child-asylum-seekers-legal-action-against-uk-government It was picked up today by ITV and BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38455222  and http://www.itv.com/news/2016-12-29/refugee-children-from-jungle-camp-launch-legal-challenge-over-asylum-decisions/

THIS ONLY HAPPENED BECAUSE OF YOU GUYS CROWDFUNDING AND ENABLING ME AND THE TEAM TO GO AND DO THIS WORK. Neither I nor Duncan Lewis would have been there if it hadn’t been for your support. So thanks again and congrats to us so far!!   Around 20 of our kids- including little Daniel- the 9 year old- have got to UK and are safe and warm this Xmas. These others represent a legal challenge to the HO’s negligence- their neglect, then unlawful dismissal, of their cases.

I have visited as have colleagues, many of the ‘centres’ where the French have placed the children who could be in UK and whom the Home Office has not yet taken. Some places there is no food at all, others only dry bread. Many are still wearing the thin t shirts and plastic flip flops they had from the Jungle, in minus temperatures. Many are starving and many have run away. At least two have  tried repeatedly to commit suicide.

Whether you have very very kindly contributed already, or whether you are unable or unwilling to commit funding, do please very kindly consider forwarding this to your friends and contacts and via social media with a note from you.

I need to keep filming to complete the 50-minute film, which will I hope be out by March-  but even more importantly to keep in touch with all the young people who call me every day, who first contacted me in the Jungle and who are now in dire straits. Funding goes equally to buy them coats and shoes etc and food when we go see them, as well as continue the investigation and the campaign to secure their rights.

We have raised £26,000 so far, and need around £12,000 to keep going to the end of the legal challenges and hopefully a successful outcome.  This film will have ongoing impact for all the other refugees and stateless people who have rights but have absolutely no way of bringing them to actuation- without language help, legal help, advice and public channels and awareness, ‘having rights ‘ means nothing at all. That’s the brutal reality of human rights, as I’ve learned in the last four months.  Please please spread the word and help us keep going.  Please all of you, spend 10 minutes spreading this to work and social contact lists or any other organisations you know of. Thanks a million!  We’ve made so much progress. Lets keep going to the end.

Please contribute to help fund our work,
Many Thanks,
Sue xxx

Some of our prior ITV News coverage…

  1. Who are the Calais jungle children eligible for UK home? – ITV News 14 Oct 2016 – There are hundreds of unaccompanied children in the Calais jungle migrant camp, but ITV News has discovered the extent of the struggle
  2. Children left with ‘nowhere to go’ after Calais ‘Jungle’ camp … – ITV.com 27 Oct 2016 – Read Children left with ‘nowhere to go’ after Calais ‘Jungle’ camp clearance latest on ITV News.
  3. Calais ‘Jungle’ camp clearance operation declared over – ITV News 26 Oct 2016 – Read Calais ‘Jungle’ camp clearance operation declared over latest on ITV News.
  4. Migrants heading to Paris as Calais ‘Jungle’ clears – ITV News – ITV.com 28 Oct 2016 – Read Migrants heading to Paris as Calais ‘Jungle’ clears latest on ITV News.

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Sue Clayton is a feature and documentary film maker. She has worked on various child and youth asylum projects over 15 years, consulting and producing news stories for ITV and BBC . Her award-winning independent film Hamedullah: The Road Home www.hamedullahtheroadhome.com has been screened at over 200 activist and debate events, and is regularly shown in UK Immigration Courts and in the Upper Tribunal cases as evidence that forced removal of young people to Kabul is not, as the Home Office says, safe. She is also creating an archive of interviews with young asylum seekers in the UK see www.bigjourneys.org and she works with a ESRC-funded research team researching best outcomes for young asylum seekers www.uncertainjourneys.org.uk