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Calais and Dunkirk Camps

Volume 611: debated on Monday 13 June 2016

2. What discussions she has had with charities and non-governmental organisations on conditions in the camps at Calais and Dunkirk. (905349)

While the management of the camps is a matter for the French Government, there is close engagement between the United Kingdom and France on all matters relating to the migration situation in Calais. Through the August 2015 joint declaration, the Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister set up a project that is being delivered by the French non-governmental organisation France terre d’asile to identify vulnerable migrants and direct them towards existing protection, support and advice.

May I associate myself and my colleagues with the Home Secretary’s earlier comments about the dreadful killings in Orlando?

The Red Cross has issued the following recommendation:

“The UK Government should be proactive in identifying unaccompanied minors with a UK connection and help guide them through the process of finding protection in the UK”.

What exactly are the Government doing to comply with that, and what have the results been so far?

As I have said, France terre d’asile, to which the United Kingdom Government is giving financial support, is doing precisely that. It is going into the camps to identify young people and to ensure that we have a good understanding of the work that is being done there. Separately, our own advisers are going into the camps to provide appropriate advice. What is of key importance, however, is getting those young people into the French asylum system.

On behalf of Labour Members, may I echo the Home Secretary’s comments about Orlando?

Research published this week by UNICEF shows that children in refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk are experiencing violence, sexual exploitation and abuse on a daily basis. Clearly, for those who are entitled to be reunified with their families, speed is of the essence, but UNICEF estimates that, at the current rate, it could take up to a year to process the children who are already in Calais and Dunkirk and who have a legal right to be reunited with their relations in the United Kingdom. What steps are the Government taking to address that, and can the Minister tell me how many Home Office staff are currently based in France and working to speed up the process?

I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman about the need to ensure that those cases are processed as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to provide teams that link up with the best expertise on both sides of the channel, and that is exactly what we have done with the French authorities. The process will not take as long as he suggested. We are seeing cases being processed in a matter of weeks, which is precisely what we want.