Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Bring them home

This week I have decided to write a letter to my local member of parliament, John Howell, asking him to help hundreds of child refugees who are eligible to come to the UK but are left to languish in Calais.

Dear Mr Howell, 

In February this year you kindly wrote to my son and his fellow members of the so-called Secret Society of Nature to congratulate them on raising funds for the World Wildlife Fund. Needless to say, the children were thrilled to receive your letter which recognised their efforts to save endangered animals from extinction.

A refugee family asks for help
© Prazis | Dreamstime.com

Today I am writing to you about the child refugees in Calais. While we have a duty to look after our wildlife, we also have a moral obligation to protect vulnerable children and young people, particularly those who have fled war or violence in their own countries. 

There have been so many images of child refugees that we are in danger of become de-sensitised to their plight. Sometimes it is difficult to confront the reality of vulnerable children travelling on their own through Europe, but none of us can afford to turn our hearts and minds away from these young people. 

I have two children myself, my son aged nine and a daughter aged 12, and the prospect of sending them on a dangerous journey across Europe without any protection turns my stomach. If a parent could do this to a child, imagine the horrors they must face in their own country.

As you will know, the French government is planning to dismantle the Calais-based migrant camp, known as the Jungle, within a matter of weeks. There is widespread concern that unaccompanied children currently residing in the Jungle will run away, rather than face the risk of being forcibly re-located to other camps. According to charities on the ground, nearly 400 of these children are eligible to come to the UK and are desperate to have their cases processed.  

Back in May, I was delighted when our government made a pledge to accept children with links to the UK and transfer them from Europe, under the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Act. Despite this promise, however, I understand that very few children, if any, have reached our shores owing to delays in the system.

Please, please exert your influence on the Home Office to speed up the resettlement of these traumatised children into the UK before they disappear from the camp in Calais. 

In decades to come, I believe our own children and grandchildren will judge us by our response to this humanitarian crisis. They may ask us why we did so little to help. I hope you will "keep up the good work", just as you urged my son to do so, earlier this year, in recognition of his efforts to safeguard the environment.

Yours sincerely,
Emma Clark Lam.