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UNACCOMPANIED MINORS IN CALAIS – SENAY’S STORY

17-year-old Eritrean refugee Senay was interviewed by the Home Office in the Calais Hospital in October 2016 on the same day the rest of the children in the Calais camp left to accommodation centres across France. He had injured his finger while attempting to climb into a lorry and his hand was tied up in a heavy bandage. The day after his interview Senay was taken directly to French state accommodation for unaccompanied refugee children in Saint Omer, a short distance from Calais, but after several days in the centre, Senay ran away and ended up sleeping on the streets of Paris.

Senay’s parents both died separately due to illness in Eritrea and so he lived with his last remaining relative in Eritrea, his Uncle. In 2016 Senay was forced to flee Eritrea because of political and religious fighting and because as an adolescent he was at risk of kidnap and conscription. He’d crossed the Sahara Desert and entered Libya before travelling across the Mediterranean to Italy and onwards through France to Calais. His Uncle and Aunt live in Leeds and have been anxiously waiting for him to arrive.

Five months after the interview and Senay had heard nothing from the Home Office. While the majority of family reunification cases in accommodation centres across France were either brought to the UK or received a rejection via their accommodation centre in December, Senay has received no refusal, no explanation and no avenue to appeal any decision. His family in the UK equally have heard nothing from the Home Office. Deeply anxious about the situation, they both wrote a letter to the Home Secretary asking her to take action on Senay’s case, but the reply that came back appeared to misunderstand the situation and offered no solutions.

Senay became disillusioned with the legal process and returned to Calais to try from there to reach the UK and his family. After six nights of attempting to reach the UK by climbing onto lorries and sleeping outside in fields, he decided to return back to Paris, to sleep, wash and rest. But on the 7th of March, he returned to his accommodation centre, late at night, to find that the centre staff had given away his bed to another minor. FTDA who run the centre and are mandated for child protection, did not provide Senay with alternate accommodation at the time – even though he is a child. He had nowhere to sleep that night. Since then his phone has been off and his family have been unable to contact him.

Volunteers from various charities have searched for Senay in satellite camps, Calais and on the streets of Paris. Detention centres in Paris have been phoned, as have some accommodation centres for unaccompanied minors. Six weeks later and Senay has still not been found.

This information was gathered by our long-term volunteer Benny Hunter.

To help us continue to support unaccompanied minors and those in need living in Calais, Dunkirk & across France, please donate here.

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GOVERNMENT INCREASES DUBS NUMBERS BEFORE HELP REFUGEES LEGAL CHALLENGE

Government increases Dubs numbers by 130 children before Help Refugees legal challenge
The Home Office has today announced that it is increasing the number of unaccompanied refugee children to be admitted to the United Kingdom from Europe under the Dubs Amendment from 350 to 480.
In a written statement made on 26 April 2016 the Minister of State for immigration, Richard Goodwill, announced that the initial figure given by the Government was incorrect because a pledge from one region to take 130 children had been missed.
The Home Office’s error is understood to have been uncovered in litigation brought by the leading refugee NGO Help Refugees.
The Government’s announcement that it will increase the number by over a third comes shortly before the High Court hears a legal challenge brought by Help Refugees to the consultation process by which the Government decided on the number of children to be admitted.
We welcome this increase in the Dubs number. Without the scrutiny and disclosure that our litigation forced upon the Home Office, the Home Office’s extraordinary error – missing 130 places for children when it only allocated 350 in total – would not have come to light.
We think that this is far from the only flaw in the consultation process. We continue to push for the reopening of the consultation process and further revision of the number of these extremely vulnerable children to be admitted.”
Rosa Curling, a human rights solicitor from Leigh Day who is acting on behalf of the NGO said: “Help Refugees is challenging the Government’s consultation as inadequate and the specified number as arbitrary. This is an important victory in our legal case and a vindication of our criticisms of the Government’s approach. We believe that this very serious error is symptomatic of a deeply flawed consultation process.”
A huge thank you to our partners Safe Passage UK for their work and support.
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HELP REFUGEES SETS UP REGIONAL TEAMS OF VOLUNTEERS IN THE UK

Ever wondered how you can help refugees from the UK?

Help Refugees is setting up regional teams of volunteers in the UK to map services, connect with local groups, fundraise and raise awareness in their local community.

We are delighted to have hosted the first ever training for our new Regional Team Leaders over the weekend. Pictured here is the wonderful Liz Clegg from the Meena Centre giving a training session on Sunday.

Each of our new Regional Team Leaders has had extensive experience of volunteering with one of our projects on the ground and wanted to know how they could help from home. They’ll be mobilising our huge network of UK-based volunteers to help map services available to refugees and asylum seekers across the country – and they need your help!

Eventually, we will have teams spanning across the whole of the UK, but for now, we are looking for volunteers based in the following areas to support our new Regional Team Leaders:

Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes
Birmingham
Brighton
Bristol
Leeds
London (North, East, South & West)
Manchester
South Wales

To find out more, email jack@helprefugees.org

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POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST REFUGEES IN CALAIS – NEW REPORT

6 months on from the demolition of the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp, a large number of displaced people – including hundreds of unaccompanied children – are sleeping rough in Calais, seeking shelter in nearby makeshift camps, or living on the streets of Paris. We’ve been supporting the work of Refugee Rights Data Project, who’s latest report exposes the “endemic” levels of police brutality on refugees in Calais.

The report is based on interviews with 213 individuals – some 43% of the displaced people thought to be living in the region, including 42% of estimated minors. This makes it the largest study of its kind in Calais and the surrounding area since the camp’s demolition.

The new reports show 89% of all refugees in Calais have experienced police brutality. 97% of the children surveyed said they had experienced police violence in the area.

Despite the evidence, local authorities are still refusing to take any responsibility for their actions, suggesting these acussations are “completely unfounded”.

To access the full report click here.

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SYRIAN & AFGHAN CHILD REFUGEES COME TOGETHER TO LEARN ENGLISH

In the Orange House Shelter & Community Centre in Athens, which is run by our implementing partners Zaatar, child refugees from Afrghanistan and Syria can play games together and learn English.

We love this space, and it’s a project we’re proud to have supported and helped build from the ground up. It’s somewhere children from different cultures and different backgrounds can come together to have fun, to learn and simply be kids again.

To help us continue to support projects like this one, please donate here.

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VOLUNTEERS DELIVER 12,000 EMERGENCY ITEMS TO REFUGEES IN DUNKIRK IN 1 WEEK

Those forced to leave the Dunkirk camp last week due to the fire have now moved out of the gyms where they were staying.

The vast majority of those who were placed into this emergency accommodation have now gone into state protection across France. Some still remain in the region.

During the eviction, with our partners we distributed over 12,000 items including 800 backpacks containing emergency supplies of water, blankets, socks, underwear, dry food, an information card for accommodation centres and a hygiene pack. Your generous donations allowed us to purchase many of these items.

Our teams, and our amazing partners Utopia 56 , Refugee Community Kitchen, L’auberge des migrants international & Gynaecologists Sans Frontiers continue to work in Calais, where we have seen an increase in the number of refugees over the past few days due to the closure of the Dunkirk camp.

To help us continue to support those stranded in the region, and support those moved across the country, many of whom are families and young children, please donate here.

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YOUNG REFUGEE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS BEING DEPORTED FROM ITALY

A young migrant in Sicily, suffering from schizophrenia, has been taken from the hospital straight to the police station, and then a detention centre.

We’ve just heard that the judge has confirmed his deportation and it’s likely to be today. Deportations are easier to carry out against the most vulnerable people, the people least likely to be able to protect themselves against mistreatment.

We will keep working with our partners in Italy to help this young man, and prevent more deportations of vulnerable refugees back to the countries they fled from to save themselves.

To help us support refugees in Italy and beyond, please set up a regular donation here.

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TERMS & CONDITIONS – FUNDRAISERS

Please read the following carefully.

Thank you for choosing to fundraise for Help Refugees. We rely on our amazing supporters, like you, to keep doing the work we do.

If any of the information from these terms and conditions is unclear or if we can help with anything at all in relation to your fundraiser please email communityfundraising@helprefugees.org

These terms and conditions apply to the fundraising you are planning to do for Help Refugees, whether for an event or a fundraising activity. You will need to tell us about this activity via our online form.

You are an independent fundraiser therefore you should not directly or indirectly indicate that you are working for Help Refugees or that Help Refugees are responsible for your fundraising activity. You must not do anything that could harm Help Refugee’s reputation. If you do, we may ask you stop your Fundraising and you must do so immediately.

As an independent fundraiser you we ask you to use a copy of our ‘in aid of Help Refugees’ logo on all materials.

Once these terms and conditions have been accepted, we will email you a copy of the pack of assets to use for fundraising. The logo will be included in this pack. Please do not alter the logo in any way. If you hold another fundraiser please register all your event details again rather than reusing assets without providing event details.

As an independent fundraiser you are liable for injury or loss that may occur to you or anyone else attending your fundraising activity or other activities relating to it. You must take the correct health and safety precautions. Help Refugees’ insurance does not cover your fundraising activity.

You are required to comply with laws and regulations relating to your fundraising activity. This may involve getting licenses, permissions and/or consent, depending on the activity.

Finances: Within 30 days of you collecting it, all the money from your Fundraising should either be:

  1. Sent to the mydonate page you have set up for your event
  2. Paid into the Help Refugees bank account via BACS using details we can provide you with on request

You are responsible for the costs of undertaking your fundraising activity (including expenses, taxes or other payments). You may only deduct reasonable expenses for the fundraising activity from the funds you collect for Help Refugees.

Help Refugees will protect your privacy and data in accordance with our privacy and cookie policy. We will never sell your data. We will contact you regarding this fundraising activity and you are free to decide if you wish to join our general mailing list.

 

Guidelines – Fundraising should be fun, but there are some things to keep in mind to ensure it all goes smoothly.

  • Supervision: if your event is going to have a lot of people, make sure you have enough qualified people and amenities to handle everyone.
  • Children’s parents / guardians must be consulted ahead of any activity
  • Food & Hygiene: when preparing or handling food, ensure you follow the correct procedures for preparation, storage, display and cooking of food. Visit www.food.gov.uk for more information.
  • Medical & Fitness: if you are planning on doing a physical activity as part of your fundraising, such as running, swimming, cycling etc., it is often a good idea to get
  • If you are doing a physical challenge you should arrange a check-up first to ensure that you are capable. While it is great to push yourself, and this is what people are supporting you to do, exceeding your limits isn’t necessary, and undermines the whole idea!
  • Be sure that you have completed and acted upon a full risk assessment, where appropriate
  • First Aid: if you are planning a really big event, you need to make sure that there are First Aiders available. Take advice from voluntary rst aid organisations such as the Red Cross or St John Ambulance, and if necessary, arrange cover. Go to www. redcross.org.uk or www.sja.org.uk to arrange to speak to someone who can advise you further.
  • Insurance: Help Refugees cannot accept liability for any loss, damage or injury sustained by anyone participating in a fundraising activity. If your event involves the public, you may need public liability insurance. If you are using another venue, they may already have this; check with them rst.
  • Lotteries & Raffles: the rules around holding events such as these can be confusing. For example, if your raffle lasts longer than 24 hours, you will need a lottery licence. Go to www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk to check the latest information.
  • Licences: visit www.institute-of-fundraising. org.uk if you are unsure whether your event or collection requires a licence.
  • Publicity material: remember to include our information on all your publicity material: Help Refugees is a charitable fund, under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund – charity number 1099682.
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CHILDREN NOW UNACCOUNTED FOR IN DUNKIRK AS POLICE FORCE PEOPLE TO LEAVE

Today in Dunkirk police intimidated and forced refugee families & unaccompanied minors to leave from several gymnasiums to accommodation centres.

In the rush to get people out siblings have been separated, children have not been identified and, inevitably, they are now unaccounted for.

Our volunteers are seriously concerned by the influence of criminal gangs, who have forced many to stay out of state protection, leaving them even more vulnerable. We hope the same MISTAKES OF CALAIS ARE NOT MADE AGAIN. That minors are given due process before they start to run away.

80 children we identified with Safe Passage UK, Dunkirk Legal Support Team and L’auberge des migrants international should have already been in the UK under family reunification. Authorities have identified 60 today, we identified 120-150 unaccompanied minors in the camp last Sunday, ALL of whom require immediate protection. Prior to the incident, authorities only acknowledged 10.

Why have our governments continued to act so slowly when it comes to the rights of vulnerable children? Write to your MP, tag and tweet them. Remind them of their responsibility to protect people with a legal right to live in the UK.

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REFUGEES BEING MOVED AWAY FROM DUNKIRK IN BUSES, NO PROVISIONS MADE FOR UNACCOMPANIED MINORS

We have been informed that the 5 gymnasiums currently occupied by displaced refugees from the camp in Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk will be relocated to Accommodation Centres across France on Friday. Only 1000 places will so far be provided, and all are dependent on local Prefectures. We do not yet know the locations, but will continue to support people as a matter of urgency with all necessary supplies before they are relocated, and after relocation too.

Already we are witnessing the effects of the great influence and threat from criminal gangs operating in the area, who have either forced or scared families, adults and unaccompanied children into leave the state-provided gymnasiums. These people are now unaccounted for and may not be able to access Accommodation Centres.

After our data collection last Sunday with Dunkirk Legal Support Team and L’auberge des migrants international, we are looking at safe ways of providing authorities with information on these minors, which will create and REINFORCE the obligation from authorities to protect these children in need. While their presence is still greatly refuted by authorities we are prepared to go to all necessary lengths to ensure the French authorities locate these children and act on their duty to provide basic child protection and safeguard them.

Simultaneously, the 80 children identified to have family links to the UK urgently need to be identified and offered safe and legal routes to join their families. This is a matter of urgency.

We are also continuing to support homeless unaccompanied minors in Calais, who have STILL been provided with NO solutions to their situation. We estimate their number to be in the vicinity of 200, and they are still facing dire conditions, and unimaginable insecurity in terms of shelter, health and protection. They would also face going hungry every night if it wouldn’t be for the incredible work of volunteers and grassroots NGOs. They are facing police intimidation and violence every day, and we constantly fear their vulnerability to criminal groups.

Please support our emergency response operation in Dunkirk by donating. Our target has increased. because of the move and political change up in the coming weeks, we expect people to return to the region, so we will need your ongoing support. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us so far.

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