Children as young as eight ‘seen wandering around migrant camps on their own’

Children as young as eight have been seen wandering migrant camps in France on their own, according to charity workers.

Most of the migrants Care4Calais volunteers meet tell of how they have had to flee their homeland due to persecution and violence, feeling they can never return.

They are all trying to find a way of getting to the UK.

Many say they want to build a home in the UK and get a job because that is where there is “hope”.

When the camp was cleared by police again on Wednesday, many of the refugees made their way into the town centre or simply stood by the side of the road.

Others had travelled as far as Paris and Brussels to try and seek asylum, charity workers said.

Many had their possessions confiscated and it is claimed they were thrown in skips amid strong winds and rain.

As a result, emotions were running high among some, while others expressed fears for their safety in the camps – due to the police visits and the apparent presence of snakes.

Others were trying to lift spirits by making jokes, with one telling of his desire to get to the UK to play for Arsenal.

Mostly groups of young men had returned to the camp which they call the “new Jungle” to huddle around log fires, just metres down the road from the land shut down years ago known as the Calais Jungle.

They are mostly Iranian, Iraqi or African, but charity workers say they are now being joined by a wider mix of nationalities including people from Turkey.

Many told how despite the circumstances – being surrounded by rubbish – they are house-proud and try to keep their tents tidy and clean.

Mied Jalloh
Mied Jalloh, from Sierra Leone, outside his tent (Steve Parsons/PA)

Small groups gathered as charities handed out food, while others collected parcels from Care4Calais of rain ponchos, bananas and socks.

Its nearby warehouse accepts thousands of donations of blankets, tents, toiletries and shoes – but they are quickly distributed and never go far enough, the volunteers said.

One of the charity’s volunteers Karen Dexter said: “We found an eight-year-old boy, he was on his own. We often find teenagers, young men, too.

“When the police came, I saw a mother with her child sobbing at the side of the road and several families with young children. I saw a baby yesterday who could not have been older than two.”

Kunta, 20,from Gambia, told the PA news agency he had been in the camp three days and wants to leave to go to the UK “as soon as possible”.

He said: “The system doesn’t work. I hope in the UK the system will be better.

“I tried to get asylum in Italy. I had to leave, life was not good. My mother and father were killed.

“I am a singer and when I get to the UK I can hope I can find work doing this.”

Mied Jalloh, 24, from Sierra Leone, said he had tried to cross to the UK in a truck five times in his four months at the camp but he could not afford the thousands of pounds being asked to use a boat.

He said: “I want to go to the UK. I don’t speak French.”

He said he had “deeply personal problems” which meant he needed to seek asylum and he had so far been unsuccessful in Germany and Switzerland.
He added: “I hope if I have the opportunity I can tell the UK and they will understand.

“To come and live here (in the camp) you have to be a crazy person. It’s very stressful.

“I will keep trying to get on a truck as long as I want to go to the UK.”

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