GENEVA, 12 October 2016 – The commitment by the UK and France to find urgent solutions for all the hundreds of refugee and migrant children languishing in Calais for months, could not come a minute too soon, said Marie Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.
With the imminent clearance of the Calais camp and wet winter weather fast approaching, it is good news indeed that many of the children will be given a new home and new hope in the UK in the days to come. We welcome also the commitment in France, to find solutions for the other refugee and migrant children who will remain in France. This too is long overdue.
For many months some 1,200 children have lived in appalling conditions in the Calais camp, exposed to abuse, exploitation and road accidents while awaiting their uncertain fate.
We can only imagine the enormous relief that the children themselves will experience when they are finally given a proper home, care, an education and a future – not just those who are going to the UK but those who remain in France. Their best interests should guide decisions by the authorities at every step of the way.
We, at UNICEF, together with our many partners who have long been lobbying on their behalf, will share the children’s relief when governments on both sides of the English Channel fully heed the calls made by the many local activists and volunteers, NGOs, including the French and UK National Committees of UNICEF, and international bodies, for lasting solutions to care for refugee and migrant children.
We look forward to even greater commitment by all the authorities, not only in their legal duty to the children, but in their moral obligation to protect all those uprooted.