16 January 2018

Safe Passage calls on UK and French governments to prevent deaths at the Calais border

Press notice
For immediate release on 16 January 2018

Safe Passage welcomes moves by President Macron to encourage the UK government to ‘take charge’ of the asylum applications of unaccompanied children and adults in Calais who are trying to reach their families in the UK. This move, already legally required of the UK government, would prevent hundreds of children risking their lives in the hands of smugglers and give them access to the safe and legal routes they are already entitled to.

Safe Passage is also calling on the UK and France to agree a package of measures that will ensure no more children or refugees die attempting the dangerous crossing from Calais to Britain. Three days before Christmas 15-year-old Abdullah Dilsouz became the 5th child to die in the last two years attempting to join is family in Britain from Calais. In total, since records have been kept, there have been over 200 deaths at the border.

Children are currently waiting months alone and at risk in Calais before even being able to start the process for family reunion. Safe Passage is calling for the two leaders to agree a package of measures to prevent any more deaths including:
• ensuring children and adults can access family reunion within a matter of weeks from Calais,
• ensuring border staff are trained to ask children if they have family in Britain and ensure they have access to start the process; and
• to agree to allocate part of the re-negotiated budget towards anti-trafficking and child protection measures to address the serious problems of trafficking and exploitation in Calais.

Bishop Jonathan Clark, Chair of Safe Passage, said:

“This week the leaders of France and the UK have the opportunity to take concrete steps to prevent more deaths at the Calais border. We hope that they can reach an agreement which upholds international law, putting in place real safeguards and allowing families to be reunited.”

Case study:

David is 14 years old and originally from Eritrea. He has a legal right to reunite with his older brother who has been living in Britain for over three years, but has been forced to wait 10 months in Calais, despite the help of Safe Passage to access family reunion. This week the family was informed that the UK Government has delayed his case yet again, despite rules requiring the UK to respond within two months.