A young boy is carried by a family member walking between makeshift tents along the train tracks in Idomeni, Greece. Unicef/2016/Georgiev

Family reunification
and failing protection

The situation facing unaccompanied children
in the Dunkirk camp

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This study focuses on the situation faced by children who were living in the unofficial Dunkirk camp in France and the challenges that they face as they go through the process of being reunited with their family living in the UK. The study includes a recommendations to the UK Government to protect these refugee and migrant children who have been uprooted from their homes by war and disasters.

Compiling the testimony of thirteen boys who have an on-going family reunion claim from France to the UK through the Dublin III Regulation, the study finds:

  • Despite frequent contacts with the authorities in European countries on their journeys towards the UK, children are repeatedly not informed about their legal rights to protection, including their right to be reunited with their family.
  • Fear of detection by authorities and related fingerprinting, physical violence, detention, pushbacks and deportation push children towards underground journeys constantly avoiding authorities and at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers.
  • Children find themselves at the mercy of traffickers, fearful of sexual abuse and of attacks with firearms
  • Children are at risk of economic exploitation as they struggle to to repay the of their debts.

You may also be interested in our latest briefing, published September 2017, which looks at how the UK Government can help refugee children reach the safety of their family.

Discover more about our work with refugee and migrant children