Four Syrian refugees in Calais camp 'should live with relatives in UK'


A British court has ordered that four Syrian refugees living in "The Jungle" should immediately be brought to the UK to live with relatives in a "groundbreaking judgement", the Refugee Council has said.

The case could set an important legal precedent that could allow many other refugees wanting to cross the Channel from Calais to come to Britain.

The young men - two teenagers and a 17-year-old and his mentally-ill 26-year-old brother - all faced "intolerable" conditions in the sprawling camp and were desperate to be reunited with their siblings in the UK, the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal in central London heard.

They have a legal entitlement to come to the UK to seek asylum because their relatives are already legally living here.

However, under EU law known as the Dublin regulation they would only be allowed to join their relatives in Britain if they had already applied for asylum in France.

But lawyers in Britain successfully argued that because of bureaucratic failings in France and the refugees' entitlement to a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, they should immediately be brought to Britain and their asylum applications processed here.

Refugee Council policy manager Judith Dennis said: "This judgement has shone a welcome light on the plight of refugees seeking protection in Europe who are desperately trying to reach their relatives.

"Everyone has the right to live in safety with their loved ones. European governments must work together to ensure families are reunited safely and speedily, especially when it comes to children and other dependant family members."

The Home Office had fought the application and plan to appeal it, the Refugee Council said.

But it is understood that the court's order will come into effect immediately meaning the four refugees can travel over from Calais now.

The judgment, that will be handed down in full at a later date, effectively means the French authorities will be bypassed as the applications are handed over directly to the British.

Michael Fordham QC, representing the applicants, told the hearing on Monday that the case could open the door to other applications from refugees at the camp hoping to come to Britain.

He said: "It will apply to others - certainly, I would say, any unaccompanied minor in this camp with a sibling in the UK. And I don't shrink from that.

"You are only deciding these cases so you know things like how long they have been there and the assessment of their needs.

"I'm not asking you to give a ruling that will be some general protective principle that does not regard those things."

But he added: "Suppose you have only been there a week, my argument is the same. This is intolerable for a day."

The court heard that all the men have been traumatised, that several of them suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and that squalid conditions at the camp are aggravating these health problems.

Mr Fordham said the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the camp amounted to "an undignified and intolerable situation".

The United Nations special representative on migration Peter Sutherland branded the camp "a stain on Europe" and "living hell", the court heard.