UNICEF: Traffickers Exploit Child Refugees in French Camps
Unaccompanied minors in refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk face sexual exploitation and are forced to commit crimes by traffickers, according to a UNICEF report obtained by the Guardian.
The report, which will be made available on Thursday, reveals stories of traffickers abusing unaccompanied minors in camps in northern France, while promising to smuggle them to the U.K. Additionally, children are often forced to help traffickers smuggle adult migrants and asylum seekers via trucks across the English Channel.
The report exposes the traumatic journeys most unaccompanied minors face while crossing to Europe, their destitute lives in the camps and the risks they take, while waiting to be reunited with family members. The British government last month promised accelerated family reunification for unaccompanied refugee children with family members in the U.K., but the commitment appears to have lagged in practice.
“The government has said that unaccompanied children should be brought to the U.K. if they have family here, yet these children’s cases are moving far too slowly. The children in Calais are the nearest and most visible cases of children who are fleeing conflict,” UNICEF’s U.K. deputy executive director, Lily Caprani, said.
Resettlement Need Hits an All-Time Record
More than 1.19 million people will be in need of resettlement in 2017, far surpassing the current available spaces in third countries, according to a report by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) released on June 13.
Despite some states increasing resettlement quotas, asylum requests have far outpaced host governments’ commitments, with a large gap expected to remain.
The projected resettlement trend is a 72 percent increase from the projected needs of 691,000 in 2014.
The UNHCR reports that Syrians will account for 40 percent of those in need of resettlement in 2017, followed by Sudan (11 percent), Afghanistan (10 percent) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (9 percent).
The UNHCR estimates that it will submit 170,000 refugees for resettlement next year. This is an increase from the current UNHCR target of around 143,000 in 2016 and more than 100,000 in 2015.
“We are seeing resettlement taken to a new level and that enhanced resettlement can be an effective means of sharing the responsibility for refugee protection,” high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said. “But much more needs to be done to keep pace with the growing numbers of acutely vulnerable.”
In the past decade the UNHCR has submitted more than 1 million refugees to be resettled in more than 30 countries, the report adds.
More Time Needed to Repatriate Kenya’s Somali Refugees
The U.N. has urged Kenya to extend its deadline to send 350,000 Somalis home from the world’s largest refugee complex at Dadaab.
Filippo Grandi said that repatriation is the best solution for Somali refugees but the time frame is too short to guarantee their safe, voluntary return.
“(Kenyan) President Kenyatta is quite determined to get through this in a relatively short period of time. I told the president that in order to mobilize these resources, we need a bit more (time),” Grandi said at a news conference in Nairobi on Monday, according to Reuters.
The Kenyan government has ordered the closure of the Dadaab camp by November 2016 amid security and economic concerns. The government announced in May that it would shut all its refugee camps and had closed its department of refugee affairs.
“The places of origin of many of the refugees in Dadaab are still very insecure,” Grandi said.
Only 14,000 Somalis have volunteered to return home since December 2014. Meanwhile, Somalia already has 1 million internally displaced people, according to the Associated Press.
Amnesty International published a press release on Monday urging both the Kenyan government and the UNHCR to “ensure continued protection for thousands of refugees at risk of forcible return to strife-torn Somalia.”
Amnesty also requested Kenya to reopen the department of refugee affairs to offer services and support to refugees. It also alleges that refugees face arrests, detention and harassment by the police in many parts of Kenya.
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