The Ongoing Plight of Child Migrants


Last week saw the clearance of “The Jungle” in Calais, home to seven thousand-odd refugees fleeing the worst of the world’s conflicts. With growing pressure to find suitable accommodation for those in need and with many of the refugees making desperate attempts to cross the English Channel to find a safe haven in Britain, the British Government has been about as welcoming and compassionate as it has ever been towards people suffering at the hands of tyrants, be they British or foreign.

Of paramount concern are the children left destitute by the horrific events in the Middle-East, but that hasn’t stopped David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth in southern Wales, calling for dental checks to verify the age of the child refugees. This practice has been called “inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical” by the British Dental Association on top of further checks that will include fingerprinting. Should the child refugee be so brazen as to attempt to gain entry to Britain without documentation then it will be at the discretion of the Home Office to grant asylum based on the demeanour and looks of the those in need. Speaking on BBC News, David Davies expressed his concerns that “we have to be careful that we don’t allow people to abuse the hospitality that we want to extend to children.”  Of course it would be a great shame to deny those in need of Great British hospitality, i.e. instant scepticism and suspicion that everyone coming here is liar and a cheat, but being a hardcore Euro-sceptic (and climate change denier to boot), one can expect precious little else from David Davies.

Living up to his former amateur boxer name, “The Tory Tornado”, the Monmouth MP seems keen for the path of destruction to remain for refugees, as he doesn’t seem to think that they are worthy of the help we can offer them. He has somewhat allowed the mask to slip as he described many of the migrants as “mostly young men, mostly with mobile phones, chancing their luck.” Apparently mobile phones protect you from Daesh and airstrikes. This makes it even easier to see beyond the Tory government’s shameful attempt to use children as political pawns, as they claim to be helping the most vulnerable by trying to place emphasis on children they may or may not grant asylum to anyway. Seemingly the government is only interested in trying to pat itself on the back with one hand and stick two fingers up to signify “V for Vendetta” against Europe’s bureaucrats with the other.

The despicable xenophobic rhetoric that everyone arriving in Britain is here to take advantage of our good natured “hospitality” by lying to get here spectacularly overlooks Britain’s meagre intake of 20,000 refugees over the course of 5 years. Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, spoke of Britain’s recent strategy for tackling the child refugee crisis, saying “the government is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and providing help for those in genuine need of international protection.” The gall to be simultaneously part of a government that voted in favour of carrying out airstrikes on a country and sceptical of whether those fleeing are in need aside, the government’s rhetoric is very dangerous. One wonders how these refugees can expect to find any hospitality in a country whose leaders favour unethical age checks and promote xenophobic sentiment.

The children caught up in this horrific crisis are being shamelessly used by our leaders to drum up both good PR and bigotry. By the time the government publishes its strategy in May 2017 to examine how children refugees have been treated, one would hope that they will have realised that using them to gain political capital is abhorrent and that their suffering, regardless of age, has gone on long enough.

[Eamon Ewins]

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