Refugees and migrants living in the squalid camps in northern France who have relatives in the UK should be urgently identified and allowed to be reunited with their families on British soil, Amnesty International has said.
The human rights organization made the call after visiting the Calais and Dunkirk, the makeshift camps hosting around 6,500 refugees.
Amnesty revealed that at least some of them, including accompanied and unaccompanied children, single women at risk of violence, exploitation and trafficking and trauma victims, have good legal claims to be reunited in the UK with their family under EU and UK asylum and immigration law.
However, information services and legal advice are almost non-existent in the Grande-Synthe camp in Dunkirk and inadequate in Calais, so people have no access to the processes for being reunited with relatives and are unaware of their rights and options.
Jean François Dubost, Head of the Displaced Persons Department, Amnesty International France, said: “The French and British authorities have repeatedly argued that no one from the camps should cross the Channel. However, our research shows that many of the refugees and migrants have the right to be reunited with their families, without having to jump on moving trains to do so.”
Steve Symonds, Amnesty UK’s Refugee Programme Director said: “Currently, the relevant family reunion regulations are in most cases effectively limited to nuclear family – particularly partners and dependent children – save where the person seeking to join family in the UK is an unaccompanied child.
“This must now be expanded to include extended family members. Doing so would be a means for the UK to share responsibility with France and other European countries affected by the global refugee crisis.”