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Lynn Green calls for urgent action to protect vulnerable children in Calais

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The Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain has issued an urgent call for local churches to act to protect vulnerable children whose safety and wellbeing is at serious risk if plans to dismantle what has come to be known as the “Calais Jungle” go ahead.

She has also written to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to express her concerns and call for urgent action to expedite their asylum claims (full text below)

This comes in response to an announcement from the French Government of their intention to close the camps and to re-locate their inhabitants by the end of this month. It is estimated that around 1000 unaccompanied minors currently live in “The Jungle” of whom at least 400 are legally eligible to re-locate in the UK under immigration law and international treaties.

There is also compelling evidence that previous actions of this nature have resulted in many children simply disappearing. Throughout Europe, it is estimated that over 10,000 children have gone missing and Save the Children report that vast numbers are falling into the hands of child traffickers and being forced into prostitution and slavery.

Lynn Green commented:

During a visit to the camps earlier this year, I saw for myself the human reality of this situation. We do not underestimate the complexities of the current situation and recognise there are no easy answers. But there is surely a moral obligation upon all of us to ensure that innocent children do not become the victims of our inactivity, or are indeed denied the rights to protection that international law affords them.

Like many other UK institutions, our churches recognise that we have a legal responsibility to protect and safeguard vulnerable children – this cannot simply stop at our political borders. Our Christian faith places a high emphasis on the care and wellbeing of children; I believe that we cannot stand by as a nation or as Christian citizens within it, and do nothing.


Baptist churches in both the UK and throughout Europe have been working together to provide practical support in the face of the current migrant crisis as well as campaigning for a fair, just and effective response from governments. Several UK Baptists have visited the camp at Calais or offered humanitarian aid to those who live there. The concerns expressed on behalf of the Baptist community arise from this on-the-ground experience.
 


Lynn Green's letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in full:


Dear Home Secretary

I write to you as the leader of 2000 local churches in the United Kingdom and a member of a Christian community that extends across the continent of Europe and beyond. 

Like many others, we recognise the significant complexities that surround the plight of migrants and refugees, and that there are no swift and easy answers. What I hope we can all agree is that amidst these realities, the plight of vulnerable children can neither be ignored nor forgotten, nor should they become victims of a situation that is not of their making.

It is estimated that around 1000 unaccompanied minors currently live in the informal camp at Calais, at least 400 of whom have a legal right to be relocated in Britain either through Dublin 3 or Immigration Law. It is a matter of some concern to us that despite the UK government’s commitment to accept additional minors, there is no evidence of this becoming reality.

You will be aware that the French Government recently announced plans to dismantle the camp and to re-locate its inhabitants. There is compelling evidence that previous actions of this nature have resulted in a number of these children simply disappearing, and indeed in the light of these experiences, some children have already started to leave the camp.

Throughout Europe, it is estimated that over 10,000 children have gone missing and Save the Children report that vast numbers are falling into the hands of child traffickers and being forced into prostitution and slavery. UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, has visited the Calais camp and has recommended that all eligible children from the 'Jungle' are processed immediately.

In common with other institutions in the UK, our churches have a high commitment to safeguarding and protecting children and vulnerable people. This is not simply a moral responsibility, but is enshrined in our laws and practices. We do not believe that such responsibilities cease at our borders and believe that we have an unavoidable and urgent responsibility to protect these children.
 
We urge you to take immediate action to prevent further harm and to urgently expedite the transfer of all eligible children to the UK before the camp is demolished, promised by the end of October 2016.
 
Yours faithfully


The Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain

To support Lynn's call to action a template letter has been created to help you contact your local MP

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