Safe Passage UK – Legal routes to sanctuary

A campaign in support of refugee children by the British Jewish community.

Imagine the British Jewish Community coming together over the next four weeks and saving 150 children’s lives.

There are an estimated 150 unaccompanied children in the refugee camps around Calais who have family living in the UK. They currently live in abject poverty and constant risk of violence, despite having the legal right to claim asylum in the UK. Some also regularly attempt the very dangerous crossing to the UK where many are injured.

There is a legal route for them to be reunited with their families and afforded the care and safety they deserve.

Safe Passage UK are this legal route. Safe Passage UK needs to raise £2,000 per child to cover the cost of the legal process, transport and support the child will need to claim asylum here in Britain. Ultimately it is £2,000 to reunite them with their families under the Dublin III and ECHR 8 orders.

There is an urgent need right now – the camp in Calais is signalled to be demolished this autumn. These children are likely to go ‘missing’ and we fear for their safety and lives.

The Plan

We plan to launch an e-campaign to find 150 Jewish families to raise £2,000 each.

Many Jewish families here in the UK are the descendants of a child who was saved by Britain, one of the Kindertransport children or a refugee after the war.

How fantastic would it be if 150 families, with similar stories, can do the same. We could rescue all these children. The British community did it with the Kindertransport in 1938. We can do it again now.

The campaign gives families the opportunity to come together, to act in honour and memory of those who helped them; and for people to make a tangible impact on the life of someone who desperately needs it, right now.

Money will be donated through the Safe Passage UK website. Families names, photo and a ‘why we are donating’ will be recorded through a Facebook page to allow people to show their commitment and also spread the word through social media. – https://www.facebook.com/groups/186922508395215/ (Facebook Group = Safe Passage – Rescuing Calais Children)

The Facebook group also acts as a public pledge page – where families and groups can say they are raising funds for the Safe Passage campaign. This will also drive and motivate others to contribute too.

Those wishing to contribute but unable to make the £2,000 in total can donate through Masorti Judaism website and money will be pooled and passed to Safe Passage UK. Or collect £2000 and donate direct at www.safepassage.org.uk

A number of families will be engaged to commit before launch as a kick-starter to the campaign. Along with an online presence highlighting the donor families and sharing words of inspiration and guidance from Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.

We have also actively engaged with the core communal organisations to push the campaign across the community including World Jewish Relief, AJR, 45 Society. 2nd Gen and JCORE, as well as the communal synagogue bodies.

FAQ

Who are Safe Passage?

Safe Passage UK is a project of Citizens UK. To date they have reunited 43 unaccompanied minors from Calais with their families here in the UK. For more information please see the attached one page outline of their work

How will the £2,000 be used?

The £2,000 will be spent on a combination of legal fees (British legal work is pro-bono, but there is a cost to the work done by French lawyers), and transport costs to and from Calais, for the lawyers, and for the sponsoring family for interviews.

How do we know there are 150 unaccompanied children?

Help Refugees, one of the most active groups on the ground in Calais, conduct a regular census in the camp working with community leadership to identify unaccompanied minors. There are currently overly 600 unaccompanied minors, of which 150 have been identified as meeting the criteria for resettlement. Of these 150 young people 43 cases have been processed already.

Why are they unaccompanied?

Many of the minors describe having ‘lost’ their family along the way. The interviewers do not press this answer, but it is assumed this is both having been separated from family along the way as well as people having died. For others

there is a strong push factor as older family try to get those most likely to be caught up in the fighting to leave home.

Why can’t their families here in the UK help?

Their families are the ones who are sponsoring them to come, and will be the family unit they join up with once they arrive.

What are the Dublin III and ECHR 8 orders?

https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0003/6143/Nov15_Dublin_III.pdf

Unaccompanied minors (Articles 6 and 8)

  • Children should have a representative (e.g. guardian/legal rep/social worker) to represent and/or assist them and ensure that his or her best interests are taken into account in the Dublin process.
  • The signatory state where the child lodges an asylum claim shall try to identify family members (parents or legal guardian), siblings and relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents) legally present in other signatory states and subject to it being in the child’s best interests, will transfer responsibility for the child’s asylum claim to the signatory state responsible for the asylum claim of those family members.
  • If family members, siblings and relatives are found in different signatory states, the child’s best interests determines to which country the child should be transferred.
  • The child is not transferred for any other reason, even if he or she has made an asylum application in another country.

Why are the British government not bringing them over to the UK?

The legal mechanism to bring the children to the UK involves cooperation between both the British and French authorities. For this to happen there has to be a formal application made by French and British lawyers, and a number of notarised testimonies from family members in the UK. The British government should be doing more to save the most vulnerable, and this is a parallel piece of work being done by Safe Passage UK. There is a tension here as the British government does not want to attract children to Calais and rather takes vulnerable people directly from the camps closer to the conflict. In reality the children are here, now, and must be given safety.

Why is the Calais camp being demolished and what happens to the people in the camp?

The Mayor of Calais is strongly advocating for the demolition of the second half of the camp. The longer the camp remains the more established it becomes with its own small economy and long term residents. The camp in Calais has been demolished and rebuilt in Calais many times in the past fifteen years. When the first half was demolished earlier in the year many of the people who had been living there simply vanished. Unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable to people traffickers.

How do I collect and donate our family’s £2,000 donation?

Safe Passage are crowdfunding the money to make claims on behalf of these children. Donations can be made directly to their website here. If you wish to set up your own funding page to raise money for this campaign then you should be in touch directly with Laura Griffiths from Safe Passage who will be happy to assist – laura@safepassage.org.uk.

Can I volunteer and do something practical instead?

There are a number of practical ways to be involved supporting refugees and asylum seekers. You can volunteer with a host of organisations across London, and also donate good quality second hand items. A lot of information can be found of the Support Refugees website.

This, however, is an urgent campaign. Many young people simply disappeared when the first half of the Calais camp was demolished. Everyone involved with them is desperately worried about what happened to them, and also to ensure this does not happen again. They are a very vulnerable group, who also have a legal route to come here to the UK.

Links:

http://safepassage.org.uk/
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/04/britain-failing-child-refugees-europe-help-them-fast
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/02/child-refugees-calais-failed-by-britain