A statistical insight – the boys helped by Refugee Youth Service in Calais

One of the organisations we support in the Calais refugee camp is the Refugee Youth Service (formerly Baloo’s Youth Centre). This organisation provides a safe place for boys aged 12 – 18 to relax and learn while they live in the camp. The team has been working to keep track of the boys that they help and sent us this update for sharing. 

Understanding the tracking and monitoring system

The tracking and monitoring system used by RYS was created in December 2015. This system was implemented by the Service as a means to keep clear records of young people in the camp and to offer support and safety measures when necessary. RYS is currently the only service on camp that tracks and monitors the young people.

As the Service has developed to meet the growing needs of the youth so too has the tracking and monitoring system. This is evident in the increasing number of children being added to the database each week reflecting the transient nature of the camp.

Since the Southern evictions in March 2016, RYS has tracked and monitored over 200 young people in the Calais camp. The role of RYS has expanded into child protection and safeguarding as part of its daily service delivery. The tracking and monitoring system notifies the Service when one individual needs additional support. Acting as a referral network, RYS then refers to and follows up with the specialists in that field to ensure that the child is given the best support available.

Furthermore, the tracking and monitoring also alerts the Service when the RYS staff within the camp have not engaged with one child over a particular period of time. The team then attempts to contact the missing individual to ensure that they are safe. If no contact can be made, the service reports the young person missing to the relevant French authorities. This procedure has been very challenging on more than one occasion. However this is the role of RYS as the children in the camp have gone ‘under the radar’ and the French state is often unaware of their presence, thus neglecting their protection. By continuing to track the young people after they have left the Calais camp, RYS are able to give a snapshot at the demographics of one of Europe’s most marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Tracking and Monitoring Results

General Statistics

Number of young people tracked and monitored since March 2016: 208*

* It is important to mention that this number does not reflect the amount of youth who attend our service, which is far greater. Given the transient nature of the camp and the delicacy of obtaining personal information from the youth, it is only possible to track and monitor those who regularly attend our Service.


Currently in Calais Camp: Statistics Breakdown (of 141 Youth)





Unaccompanied status


Comments: To have a clear definition of an unaccompanied minor in the Calais camp is often extremely difficult. The difference in the cultural term of ‘uncle’ has meant that many children claim they are with a distant family relation but this may be a friend from the child’s hometown or village or someone they travelled with. Also given the transient nature of the camp, it has often meant that adults responsible for the child have made it to the UK separately. Therefore, RYS have determined that the definition of an accompanied child is one who is with their immediate family members (mother or father) but not a brother, as again we often have had cases of older brothers crossing without their siblings.

Accommodation status


Comments: It is important to mention that the number of youth living in tents is increasing dramatically. This is due to a high influx of people into the camp over the past couple of months combined with the construction and maintenance ban enforced by the CRS riot police. Also, the violence on the 26th May which burnt down much of the Eritrean and Ethiopian community has meant that these young people had their shelters destroyed and are now forced to live in tents. If the situation continues in this way, the camp will revert to what it looked like pre-October 2015.

Missing children

Since March 2016, RYS have filed 13 missing children reports. Of the 13 –

Current status


Located by


Moving Forward

RYS strives to improve its service and expand its reach to include all young people in the Calais camp. Therefore the tracking and monitoring system is continuously updated and amended to increase its efficiency. The latest improvements are implementing a referral system to other direct work services on camp who contact us if they meet an unaccompanied minor who does not engage with the service, as well as working in collaborating with the Help Refugees census team to locate the most marginalised and vulnerable children on camp.


Featured image: This was the backdrop for many of the boys in the camp in March of this year. Please click through here to read more.

We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!