Child Refugee

The number of refugees living in camps in Northern France has increased dramatically over the last five years, with the influx from the migrant crisis adding to the already high numbers of economic migrants from Europe and further afield. These camps have grown exponentially and with such growth comes suffering, appalling conditions, and the worst kind of human interaction – exploitation. I am, of course, talking of the traffickers and the exploiters many of whom are British or French using the desperation and fear that exists in these camps for their own ends.

UNICEF just released figures last week estimating that around 500 unaccompanied children across a number of the larger camps are at risk or actively being exploited by trafficking and drug gangs. Along with the ever-present danger of sexual exportation and daily abuse that exist within these camps.

Researchers for UNICEF talked to around sixty unaccompanied children living throughout the camps to work out this average. France is a western, modern country and that accentuates the contrast seen, it is horrific to observe such human plight right next door to McDonald’s, apartments and bars – operating just a few miles away, adjacent to the slums you would see in West Africa. We are seeing more slums and an increase in beggars and broken down areas throughout the major western powers as the social infrastructure crumbles, in turn leading to a huge political backlash. The issue here is that ordinary people from Germany to Britain, France to Spain are seeing on the news and with their own eyes thousands upon thousands of migrants and the fixation by the press is on the young male migrants and how they may be a potential threat, instead of the reality which is that a large proportion of migrants are simply families, looking for a better life, or unaccompanied children. Their strife is not taken seriously by any country as governments feel uneasy at the political repercussions, whichever way they jump.

It’s easy for us westerners to view the migrant crisis as their own fault and believe that the majority are young working males who will be able to survive, this is the myth that has been populated by the media as well as most western governments. It is easy to use migrants is a political weapon as we saw in the recent Brexit vote than talk about the tragic situation that is unfolding all over Europe and beyond.

If you pop into most pubs, both in and outside of London, and ask any patron there what they think we should do about the asylum seekers in Calais and all over northern France the response will be largely the same, is not our responsibility or they are coming here to steal our jobs – the typical response is somewhere between those two statements but the real issue they should be talking about is the rise in career criminals taking to the English Channel to act as smugglers. So what is our responsibility here in the United Kingdom?

First and foremost, as the creators of the human rights, written by British lawyers after the Second World War (not the EU not America) Britain, has a moral and historical duty to help people in need, especially children. So why aren’t we?

The problem is that most people view the majority of migrants sitting across the channel being people that are not displaced by war or persecution but economic migrants, wanting to work within the United Kingdom. And that fuels the reluctance to admit them because a large migration of workers displaces those that are resident, as an island nation there is a fine balance in what our economy can support.

So how do we work out who is needy and who is not? First and foremost we have to help the aged, the ill, and children – basic human rights and if we like to think of ourselves as a morally sound nation then we can’t walk away from these three groups of people so, on simple moral grounds, we should not be leaving them in camps to suffer and perhaps be abused. The British government should create a base where these vulnerable migrants can be nursed back to health, the children put into a caring and education environment so they can learn English and have a stable upbringing whilst their parents and families credentials are checked and categorised. Unaccompanied children could be placed within these family groups after the adults have been assessed and vetted.

We can no longer sit aside and allow the French government to take responsibility for these massive numbers of asylum seekers within their borders. Instead of spending billions on fencing and ways to shut down traffickers, we should make safe areas here in the UK where migrants can be brought to, a safe place to be processed and either returned or admitted, dependent on the individual case being made and our regulations. In the long term, this will save billions in border protection, it will cut down the risk of terrorism, and morally it is the right thing to do.

We need a touch of humanity in this crazy mixed up world before the situation deteriorates even more, as it might do with the forthcoming American and French elections. This is not the time to pull up the drawbridge and ignore what is happening in Europe and the wider world. After all, it’s not the children’s fault – we should be reaching out and help them get a good start in life – isn’t that what civilised societies do?

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