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3 Apr, 2016 08:56

Almost 130 refugee kids vanish after 'Calais Jungle' demolition - charity

Almost 130 refugee kids vanish after 'Calais Jungle' demolition - charity

Almost 130 children have gone missing from the Calais migrant camp after authorities demolished parts of the makeshift shelters last month, a British charity has revealed.

The number comes from a census by Help Refugees UK.

“We are deeply shocked and very concerned to report that 129 unaccompanied minors cannot be accounted for,” the charity wrote on its Facebook account.

The southern section of the camp was bulldozed in the first week of March, despite the migrants housed there clashing with police to prevent the demolition at the time.

Help Refugees UK accuses the French government of failing to offer a safe environment for unaccompanied children.

“No alternative accommodation was provided for unaccompanied minors during the evictions, no assessment was made by the French authorities of their needs and no systems put in place to monitor them or provide safeguarding. There is no official registration system for children in place in Calais or Dunkirk,” the charity says.

Calling the government approach “not acceptable,” the NGO urged better care for some 294 unaccompanied minors still living in other parts of jungle. The average age of the minors in the camp is 14.2, while the youngest unaccompanied child is only 8.

“We call on the French authorities to put systems in place immediately to register and safeguard the children. With Interpol already reporting over 10,000 missing refugee children in Europe, we need to do everything possible to mitigate against the children in Calais and Dunkirk adding to these numbers.”

The census conducted by the NGO revealed that a total of 4,432 adults and 514 children, of whom 294 are unaccompanied minors, still live in Calais. Out of that number 1,000 adults live in government provided containers, while 3,376 inhabitants occupy tents and shelters.

The NGO says it has shared the numbers with the UK children commissioner Anne Longfield and her French counterpart Genevieve Avenard, in the hope that they can reverse the situation.

Last month, the Independent reported the rape of seven teenage boys at the Calais Jungle aged between 14 and 16 that happened over the last six months. Aid workers speaking with the publication said that four of the victims required surgery from the assault on them.