Refugee Children Say They’d Be ‘Better Off’ in Squalid Calais Camp Than New Centres

A total of 13 of the 33 boys Safe Passage interviewed – more than a third – said they were better off in the squalid camp, where people lived in tents and rudimentary wooden shelters.

Eight reported said they had not been given clean clothes and only five said they had spoken to anyone from the Home Office since arriving in the CAOs.

Three reported being forced to work in fields to pick fruit and three said they were living among adults.

“If others run away I am not going to stay,” one said. Another said: “I am not happy here at staying in this accommodation…

“Please please take us out of here to the UK. No proper food, clothes and I am bored here. If the situation continue like this I may go somewhere else.”

Bishop Paul Butler, from charity Citizens UK, which runs Safe Passage, said: “Children in France are getting increasingly desperate as they hear little from officials, and fill the void with rumours and speculation.

“With children already absconding from the CAOs it is vital that the Home Office speeds up the rate of transfers to the UK.

The 33 boys interviewed were aged 13 to 17 and were Syrian, Afghan, Sudanese, Iraqi and Eritrean.

Two of said they were considering fleeing the centres they were living in. Two who were due to be interviewed already had.

Rabbi Janet Darley, from Citizens UK, said: “We are hugely concerned about the safeguarding of children in the CAOs in France.

“The Safe Passage team have had reports of forced labour and unaccompanied children being made to live with adults.

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