For months now, the British have repeated their promise to accommodate all unaccompanied and vulnerable children who remained in the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais, resettlement in the United Kingdom. But without any declaration to the contrary, several hundred children have been left to their own fates and still remain in France. Before the camp was finally cleared, British officials, there to process the children, left. There being little alternative, the French authorities moved them to other centres and tried to pressure Britain to honour its commitment. This fell on deaf ears. The party line is (paraphrased) that we have accepted hundreds and hundreds more are due to be processed. So far some 300 have arrived in the UK, being only those with family ties, subject to the obligations of the Dublin Regulation III (2015) to which the UK is a signatory. No children have been accepted by the United Kingdom on compassionate grounds. Children as young as 6 years old have been completely betrayed and deserted by one of the world’s wealthiest countries. According to the International Red Cross many are “depressed and frightened”.
What is acutely evident is the fact that the government is contented to ignore the problem hoping that it will just go away. The fact is that it may go away from the eyes of the British just becoming someone else’s problem. But, importantly, is this what the British people really expect from its government? Publicly making promises, filling the most vulnerable people possible with some justifiable sensation of hope and anticipation, just to be left rotting in the mud. The reason that this is allowed to continue is that the media is not interested – its an old story and it doesn’t sell papers. Of far more interest is the handful of immigrants who may manage to get too much money from the social services or a couple of children who get through the system and turn out to be a couple of years too old to qualify.
The owners of the only online video course for those taking the Life in the UK Test (www.lifeinukthetest.co.uk), Citizenship Limited, believe that government should face up to its obligations and be a leader in accepting those who are young, vulnerable, traumatised and in danger.