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The Jungle of Calais, Blog 2: The Plight Of The Children

In Calais, volunteering efforts initially began ad hoc, largely in late 2015, and while some of the later-formed non-profits and initiatives have comparably remarkable organization and success records, the struggles are manifold. Daily hot meals are provided by volunteer donations kitchens run by a dozen volunteers (which are constantly on the verge of drying up); and the volunteer-run First Aid Caravans are often understaffed, sometimes just by mere medical students.

The camp hosts over 1,000 children now, almost 80% of whom are unaccompanied minors, meaning children up to the age of 18. To some, an 18-year-old is an adult. To me, an 18-year-old is just as much of a kid that I was at that age, in particular when facing a horrendous journey across Europe without a parent. Many of them are deeply traumatized. Among other things, these minors [or children] have experienced war, conflict, bombs, dead body parts, lost parents, horrendous treatment in European detention facilities, and exposure to traffickers in Calais. Unfathomable. Many have gone missing since the demolition of the southern part of the camp in early 2016. Partly due to the lack of a proper recording system, this means that there is no way to keep them safe and follow up on them. I have personally seen and experienced the behavioral struggles many of them are going through. At 12, 13, and 14 years of age. Now we are at the verge of seeing this happen again in light of the imminent evictions. Unfathomable.

In mid-March 2016, the census, which is carried out every month by a small volunteer team, peaked at around 5,000. It is now September, and the numbers have almost literally doubled. Lord Alf Dubs, a former child refugee in 1939, pressured the UK government into an Immigration Reform amendment earlier this year, promising to take in tens of thousands child refugees. His efforts have so far gone unrequited. While French authorities have named October 31 as the final date by which to carry out the evictions, they have failed to give similarly specific plans for how to care for the future of unaccompanied minors.


Census from August 2016:

Source: Help Refugees


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