The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website] said [press release] Tuesday that the governments of France and the UK are failing in their obligation to protect refugee children in the Calais “Jungle” refugee camp. The UNHCR accused the governments of failing to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child [official website] by destroying a refugee camp, which forced unaccompanied minors to seek refuge in shipping containers or become displaced. The committee was especially concerned because the governments were not only aware of the presence of children in the camp but also were given strong warnings to protect them. The UN accused the governments of succumbing to political pressures that subjected the children to trafficking, homelessness and other conditions:
The events of the past week have shown clearly that political and other considerations prevailed over the initial promises by both Governments that the situation of unaccompanied children would be their priority. The best interests of the child have been completely disregarded. Disagreements between the French and UK Governments over who should take responsibility for the majority of these children have led to major violations of these children’s rights. Hundreds of children have been subjected to inhumane living conditions, left without adequate shelter, food, medical services and psychosocial support, and in some cases exposed to smugglers and traffickers.
The UN was pleased that the France had promised to relocate the children to safer facilities until a final decision is made.
The migrant crisis continues to have a huge impact in the international world. An administrative court in Lille, France, last month rejected [JURIST report] requests from almost a dozen aid groups and permitted the closure process of the “Jungle” migrant camp near Calais to continue. Last week the UNCHR called 2016 the worst year for refugees [JURIST report] crossing the Mediterranean Sea as the death toll reached its highest point. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau commenced [JURIST report] an investigation this week into the human rights of migrants in Australia.