Asylum: up to 400 refugee children stranded in France

Date: 29th October 2017
Category: Refugee , migrant and asylum-seeking children

As many as 400 unaccompanied refugee children who claim to have relatives in the UK are trapped in France, where their asylum cases are not being actively considered, human rights lawyers have said in a new report.

More than 900 unaccompanied, asylum-seeking children were allowed into the UK from Europe in 2016, according to the UK Home Office, which disputes that asylum applications have stalled. But the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) says that poorly handled family reunion cases dating from when the Calais "Jungle" camp was demolished last year has left these children stranded. The BHRC says age assessments were "arbitrary and discriminatory", in many cases based on physical appearance alone.

Two officials from the organisation which conducted assessments on teenage migrants said that "children who had identity documents were being expelled from the queue if their appearance did not fit". The BHRC also said that children were not given the opportunity to challenge age assessments which put them over the age of 18, and that restrictions imposed by French officials on lawyers, stopping them from giving advice to refugees, compounded the children's problems.