‘Desperate’ Afghan children go on hunger strike in France in bid to rejoin families in UK

Three weeks after the demolition of the Calais camp, several charities say there is rising anxiety among the 1,600 children and young people who were dispersed to disused elderly people’s homes and youth hotels across France without being given information about their future.


Three 16-year-olds from Afghanistan have begun a hunger strike in France in protest at the slow process of being reunited with their families in the UK, according to a refugee legal organisation.


Elsewhere, at least 20 children have become so concerned at the absence of information that they have run away from the centres where they have been rehoused, hoping to continue their attempts to come to the UK illegally by smuggling themselves on to lorries.


The three boys from Afghanistan who are on hunger strike have been trying to get permission to join relatives in the UK for several months, and had been living in tents in Calais for more than six months, according to Laura Griffiths, a senior field manager for Safe Passage UK. “It is a sign of their desperation at being forgotten,” she said. The organisation was in regular contact with the boys since they stopped eating last week and was trying to convince them to stop the protest, she said.


The Red Cross and Save the Children have called on the Home Office to urgently provide basic information to children and French hostel staff about the expected timescale for processing applications to come to the UK.


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