Save the Children Calls for Urgent Halt to Demolition of Calais Camp

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 24, 2016) — Tomorrow’s planned demolition of "The Jungle" camp in Calais should be halted immediately until every child is accounted for and found a safe place to stay.

Save the Children’s call comes amid reports from staff on the ground that vulnerable children have been left in limbo after registration for children was halted earlier today. The move has resulted in confusion for hundreds of children who have been left not knowing where to sleep tonight and uncertain about the process for registration to move on from the camp. There were approximately 1,300 children living in squalid conditions in the camp, but if demolition proceeds before children are identified and made safe, Save the Children warns that many children may disappear.

Save the Children is urging British and French authorities to work closely together to ensure children’s safety is prioritized. That means ensuring children have a safe place to stay tonight, and when registration restarts in the morning, that children are given a separate, safe route to registering, so they aren’t caught up in lines of thousands of adults.

"It is extremely welcome to see vulnerable children who have been trapped in Calais reaching safe haven in the UK over the last week," Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children, said. "But as night falls in Calais, we are deeply concerned for the fate of hundreds of children who remain, and who do not know where they will sleep tonight and have no information on what tomorrow will bring.

"It is unacceptable that the French operation to demolish the camp, which has been planned for weeks, now risks putting vulnerable children at greater risk. We are deeply concerned that children are being directed to stay in an area in the camp called Le CAP, which children’s agencies do not have access to and which may expose them to violence or abuse. There is no way the demolition can start until all children have been properly identified and provided for – to do otherwise would be unconscionable."

Save the Children has been working with the Refugee Youth Service in Calais to set up information points across the camp today along the path that children should be taking to the registration point. However, with no clear guidance from the authorities, it is unclear where to send children tonight, or what the process will be tomorrow.

"Children urgently need secure spaces to stay and to be supported through a clear, safe process for registration and assessment to check whether they can be reunited with family members, or where it is in their best interests to be offered sanctuary in the UK," Miles added.

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