Shocking report reveals rape and brutality in migrant camps
THE HORRIFIC abuse of children and young women in the migrant camps of northern France has been highlighted in a shocking report revealing regular rape and brutality
Sexual violenceis a constant threat to young girls and boys with every single child interviewed in the Unicef report by aid workers saying they lived in fear of attack by people smugglers now running the camps.
Exploitation is rife in the camps around Calais and Dunkirk and many vulnerable and terrified young girls and women are ending up in prostitution.
One woman told stunned charity workers: “All girls receive proposals to engage in prostitution - the weakest ones accept but if you refuse they do not force you. Unless, of course, you owe them money.”
For protection or to earn a few euros, child migrants will fetch water, resell items they were given during food distribution, stand in the shower queue for an adult or clean their hut.
Unaccompanied children who have no money are forced to work for the smugglers or people traffickers or move towards more dangerous activities like theft, drug dealing and prostitution.
People smugglers are even said to be charging migrants for entry to the camp.
The report said: ”The living conditions at the camps, the violence experienced on the road, the risks of border crossings, the monetary relationships in shanty towns and forms of the resulting enslavement constitute a permanent danger for unaccompanied children, and were present at all the sites that we studied.”
Vulnerable women are also open to shocking levels of sexual violence and exploitation as they try to reach Europe.
One Sudanese woman told Unicef researchers how fellow migrants were routinely beaten and raped during a hellish journey from their war-torn homeland.
In Libya they were held by ruthless criminal gangs and used as slaves as a way of paying traffickers to get them across the Mediterranean and into Europe.
The woman said: “Once in Libya, you pay and you must hide. I was very frightened during the journey and they could rape you or hit you whenever they liked.
"The traffickers changed every night, so you didn't know who would be there. And every night they chose who they would rape. Only the women with young children were sometimes left alone."
After Libya the refugees reached Italy or Greece by boat but their nightmare was far from over.
The woman told researchers: “Every morning at the port, the men were flogged and the women were raped.”
Britain has agreed to take in 30 unaccompanied child migrants who have relatives already living here under a family reunion policy but Unicef and the Citizens UK charity have identified at least 157 with family in the UK and is urging the Government to do more to ease their plight.
Marie Pierre Poirier, Unicef special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, said: "These children’s cases are moving far too slowly. Every day they wait is another day they are exposed to violence, sexual exploitation and forced labour and are in danger of falling into the hands of traffickers.
“It is a silent and desperate situation - out of sight and out of mind - yet tens of thousands of children face danger every day and hundreds of thousands more are prepared to risk everything.
“We urgently need to protect these children from all types of abuse and exploitation by those taking advantage of the situation to exploit their dreams.”
Unicef said more than nine out of 10 refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe this year through Italy were unaccompanied, prompting the warnings of abuse, exploitation and death facing them.
More than 7,000 unaccompanied children made the crossing from North Africa to Italy in the first five months of this year, twice as many as last year.
Ms Poirier added: "It is clear these unaccompanied children are falling through the cracks and every day they are alone and left unprotected, they are vulnerable to exploitation, harm and abuse.
“Every country – those the children leave, those they cross and those in which they seek asylum - has an obligation to establish protection systems focussed on the risks that unaccompanied children face.
"In the European Union and other destination countries, there is an opportunity for policy and legislative reforms to lead to more opportunities for safe, legal and regular channels for these children.”
Unicef UK is calling on the Government to take immediate action to protect the youngsters and reunite unaccompanied refugee children in Europe with their families in the UK.
Human rights group Liberty also called for urgent government action.
Policy officer Rachel Robinson said: “This harrowing report should come as a wake-up call to ministers, who must act quickly on their commitment to accept unaccompanied refugee children from Europe to guarantee as many as possible are settled here in time to start school in September.
"To honour its promise the government must provide local authorities with the funding they need to care for refugee children properly.
“Government also has a moral obligation to speed up the process of family reunion for children with relatives here and stop further exploitation and abuse at our shores.”