What will happen with these children after the evacuation of the Jungle in Calais?
Normally, Vautmans would visit “the Jungle” in November, but by then the camp will already be dismantled. The MEP is especially concerned about the unaccompanied children. According to the latest numbers, 1.179 out of 10.188 residents are minors. Exactly 1.022 of them are unaccompanied. “What will happen with these children after the camp’s evacuation?”, asks Vautmans. “The time has come for the political world to take action, otherwise these minors will become a prey for people smugglers. If this happens, they will end up in prostitution or killed for their organs. This has been demonstrated in a survey by Europol.”, Vautmans explains.
At this very moment, voluntary organisations are busy making an inventory, trying to identify the camp’s residents. “However, this should be done by an official organisation. We are running out of time to make an inventory that includes everyone. If necessary, the evacuation should be postponed until all children are registered in the inventory.”, says Vautmans.
Many children have a right to go the United-Kingdom in the context of a family reunion, but the French government won’t screen these children and take them out of there. “I want to put these harrowing conditions on the political agenda in Europe”, Says Vautmans. The only downside is that the next European plenary session will only take place at the end of March.
“Belgium should be ready to provide humanitarian assistance”
Also, De Vriendt would like to draw PM Michel’s attention. “For now, we have an overview, but once the evacuation starts, everyone will spread, also the children”, says De Vriendt. When the Southern part of the camp was evacuated in the beginning of 2016, 122 children were found missing. “Belgium should be ready to provide humanitarian assistance and help people with the procedure of applying for an asylum if France fails to do so”. De Vriendt hopes PM Michel will talk to his French colleagues about the matter.
Conversations with refugees show that many of them cannot register themselves as an asylum seeker, even if they wish to do so. “France’s behaviour is barbaric and as a member of the European Union, it should be ashamed. No shelter, nor food is provided… An evacuation without an alternative, a worthy shelter, is out of the question. Otherwise, we face a humanitarian catastrophe”, says De Vriendt.
At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty on when the camp will be evacuated. It is, up until now, unknown where the refugees will be accommodated. Both Vautmans and De Vriendt were impressed by the situation and took their time to talk to the volunteers and the refugees.