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Juliet Stevenson in plea for Jungle camp children

Published 20/10/2016

Actress Juliet Stevenson is staunch campaigner for refugee children
Actress Juliet Stevenson is staunch campaigner for refugee children

Juliet Stevenson, Carey Mulligan, refugees and activists will stage a poignant last plea for the unaccompanied children in the Calais "Jungle" camp.

A reading of the Dublin III regulation, which sets out a refugee child's right to claim asylum, will be performed by them at the Young Vic theatre in London to urge the Government to speed up the resettlement process.

With the bulldozers poised to begin the flattening of the sprawling site in northern France, concerns are growing for the children who may not be brought safely to the UK in time.

Truly, Madly, Deeply star Stevenson, a staunch campaigner for vulnerable refugee children, said there was "great concern" that if they were not relocated soon, they would go missing.

She told the Press Association: "Many of them are already in a terrible state of panic and fear about what happens when those police come in and demolish it.

"The great concern is how to transfer these most vulnerable children, in both the Dublin and Dubs categories, safely in the next few days so that they don't disappear and panic or get picked up by traffickers."

Under Dublin III children can have their asylum claim transferred from their arrival point in Europe to another country if they have family members living there.

Additionally, the amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 made by Lord (Alf) Dubs requires the Government to relocate unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.

A census conducted by Help Refugees on October 15 recorded 865 children living in Calais - many of whom are unaccompanied.

Of the reading, called Last Chance, Stevenson said: "It is such integral part to understand what this treaty is and why it means these children are allowed to be here.

"If you want to know to more or get a better grasp of it, come and listen and we will read it to you. This is the law, it isn't a conspiracy by a bunch of people who have nothing better to do.

"This is actual legislation - it was born out of an idea to do the right thing by children who have been uprooted and rendered homeless by war or violence."

With more children starting to arrive in Britain ahead of the camp's closure, photos of the transferral of 14 youngsters to the UK prompted demands from Tory MP David Davies for tests on the teeth of child migrants to verify their age.

Saying the teenagers who arrived on Monday "don't look like children", he said he hoped "British hospitality" was not being abused.

Expressing her dismay, Stevenson said she could not believe that as a country the debate was being had over whether the children were the age they claimed.

She said the controversy surrounding the images of the children's arrival was a "total distraction" from the real humanitarian issue of how to protect them.

"I think it comes from David Davies' desire to skew this argument away from what really matters," she said.

"Which is, his own government have declined to concern themselves with the well-being of these extremely vulnerable and traumatised children for an entire year now.

"They have begun the process less than a week before the camp is due to be demolished. These promises were made months ago and nothing has been delivered.

"His own government who passed the Immigration Act with the Dubs amendment have done absolutely nothing until a few days before demolition and they have declined to work with the people who have the expertise."

Having visited Calais before, Stevenson said it has become a toxic, dangerous and terrible place and is "always considered to be an immigration problem".

"All over this country there are people who do welcome these most beleaguered and traumatised children and want to feel that we can give them some space and care until their countries are safe to go back to," she added.

"Are we ashamed of taking 10,000 Jewish children in during the war? Are we ashamed of that history? No, I think we are very proud of it. What is the difference?"

She added: "There are hundreds of traumatised and desperate children in that camp who should be here and who are not."

:: Last Chance staged by Good Chance will take place at the Young Vic theatre in London from 7.15pm on October 20 and will feature a Q and A session as well as the stage reading. Tickets are free.

Press Association

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