Calais refugee children sue UK govt for neglect
Amber Rudd faces legal action from the children, aged 14 to 17, after allegedly neglecting her responsibility to provide a safe haven for minors fleeing conflict and destitution, as enshrined under section 67 of the Immigration Act.
Twenty-eight of the youngsters bringing the case have had their asylum applications refused, while the rest are still awaiting a decision from the Home Office.
The Calais camp, on the northern French coast, was flattened by local authorities on October 31 and its inhabitants dispersed to reception centers across France.
“The government has rendered these children, including some as young as 13, to effectively be without any legal remedy until well into the new year, which is the earliest that the relevant Home Office officials have agreed to give reasons for refusing some of these children,” said Duncan Lewis Solicitors public law director Toufique Hossain.
“The way that this has all been handled by both the UK and French authorities is nothing short of shameful. It is morally reprehensible and, we argue, simply unlawful that these children have not been given written reasons as to why their applications were refused and that these children were told about the refusals in group meetings without a proper procedure in place.”
According to the child refugees’ legal team, the British government, and the Home Office in particular, failed to allow the relocation of most of Calais’ vulnerable children to the UK.
Rudd and the Home Office also stand accused of failing to use the powers included in the Dubs amendment, giving the government a discretionary allowance to opening the borders for children in extreme need.
The case of a 14-year-old Afghan boy is being used as an example in court. The child’s father had been assisting NATO on the ground and became a target to the Taliban. The boy was shot in the neck by members of the terrorist group and had crossed eight countries after fleeing his home. He was then stuck in France awaiting entry in Britain, four times attempting to take his own life after suffering physical and sexual abuse at the hand of people traffickers.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors wrote to the Home Office on November 2 and December 5 about his case and to alert for the child’s critical condition, but on neither occasion received a response. Between December 15 and 16, the Afghan boy was one of many to be told his asylum application had been unsuccessful.
Two hundred children have come to Britain from the French refugee camp. No more are expected to be moved across the Channel.
The Guardian reported that some of the children refused asylum had sent the newspaper SOS messages. A 16-year-old Sudanese boy now living in Biscarrosse in South East France, was said to have sent a string of WhatsApp messages on Tuesday saying he was “just tired” of life.
“Even I don’t know when or how I can sleep. All I know I just wanna do anything right now to forget,” he said.
Talking about the staff at the reception center he now lived in he said: “I told them two weeks ago, please shoot us to relax us coz this not human, I would swear.”
The Home Office is yet to comment.