19. September 2016 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „Afghan boy killed in Calais in attempt to climb on to lorry to UK“ · Kategorien: Frankreich, Großbritannien · Tags: ,

Quelle: The Guardian

14-year-old said to have had legal right to travel to Britain, but despair at application delays led him to try stowaway route

A “polite and gentle” 14-year-old boy from Afghanistan has been killed in a hit-and-run incident on the motorway leading to Calais port, highlighting the extreme risks that asylum-seeking children take every night as they attempt to join relatives in the UK.

The boy was trying to climb on to the roof of a lorry that had slowed as it approached the port in the early hours of Friday morning, according to eye-witnesses. They said another child was attempting to pull the boy on to the moving vehicle, but he lost his grip and fell onto the road, where a car hit him. The driver did not stop.

Calais-based charities say his death was the 13th fatality near the port this year, and that he was the third child to have died. The boy is understood to have had a brother in the UK, and consequently a right to travel to the Britain legally. An application for papers to allowhim to be transferred had been made several months ago, but progress was so slow that he began trying to stow away on lorries at night.

“We try dissuading them from taking these risks, but it falls on deaf ears. They are so desperate to get on with their lives, to be rejoined with their families just 30 miles away,” said Jess Egan, a volunteer at the migrant camp in Calais who knew the dead boy. His name is not being released, because family members in Afghanistan are not aware of his death.

Egan said the boy, who had been in Calais for five or six months, “loved being with his friends, playing football and listening to music”. “We would often have conversations about how much he wanted to be in the UK, in school, and to get on with his life,” she said. “But he was stuck in the camp, in awful conditions.”

There are more than 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children living in second-hand tents and wooden shacks in Calais, according to a survey conducted by the charity HelpRefugees. Many have family in the UK, and some are as young as eight. Many of make several attempts to get into the UK every week.

Alf Dubs, the Labour peer who persuaded the government earlier this year to introduce legislation promising sanctuary for some unaccompanied child refugees, said he was shocked by the death. Since the so-called Dubs amendment in the Immigration Act was passed, no children have been transferred to the UK under it provisions, despite a campaign to get a substantial number of them moved in time for the start of the school year.

“The government must speed up the process of identifying the children eligible to join family members already in the UK and start the procedures to discover children eligible under the Immigration act,” Dubs said. Because so little progress has been made on implementing his amendment, few people are aware of their rights in terms of claiming asylum “which means the people traffickers can persuade people to choose the risks of getting on the back of a lorry in preference to trying the legal and safer method.”

Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who is campaigning for Britain to give asylum to more unaccompanied refugee children, said: “This is shocking, heartbreaking news. This is the third child from the Calais ‘jungle’ to die this year. The French and British authorities cannot keep dragging their feet and ignoring the urgency of this. While governments dither and delay, children are suffering and even losing their lives.”

Friends of the dead boy were “shocked, upset, angry that this has happened to someone in their community”, Egan said. Volunteers who work with the children have persuaded many of those without family in the UK to seek asylum in France, but local facilities for caring for children are often full, and unable to house new arrivals.

Even those who know they have a legal case to travel to the UK, continue to take the extreme risks of attempting the crossing because they have little faith that their case will be successful. “The system that doesn’t work,” Egan said. “It takes months and months.”

“Many other children witnessed his violent death. He had already started the legal process for family reunification, but he had been waiting for so long he lost faith in the system and thought his only option was to risk his life in order to finally reach safety,” said Annie Gavrilescu of the charity HelpRefugees.

Neha Shah, another volunteer who knew the dead boy, said he was polite and gentle and “very determined in everything he did, especially learning English. He spoke often and with admiration of his brother who is in the UK.”

Lorry drivers are becoming increasingly concerned about the risks of driving near the port, because large number of children and adults attempt to hide in vehicles every night. When police find children attempting to stow away they send them back to the camp. Many report having been hit with police batons and sprayed with teargas.

Laura Padoan, a spokeswoman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said: “We remain deeply worried about the situation of vulnerable refugee children living in precarious situations across Europe. With colder weather approaching, it’s now crucial that transfers of unaccompanied refugee children who can benefit from the Dubs amendment are fast-tracked.

“This will require the UK and the other relevant governments in Europe to substantially pick up the pace in identifying those children in need of protection in whose best interest would be to come to the UK and transferring them here as a matter of urgency.”

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