Peace Group To Hold Candlelit Vigil For Calais 'Jungle' Children

18 October 2016, 09:24 | Updated: 18 October 2016, 10:13

A candlelit vigil is to be held in Scotland's capital in solidarity with refugees and children from the Calais "Jungle'' camp.

The event has been organised by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre in response to the demolition of the camp by the French government.

On Monday, 14 teenagers arrived in the UK from Calais as a fast-track system was launched to transfer youngsters from war-ravaged countries including Syria and Sudan before the camp is cleared.

Dozens more children are expected to arrive this week after a team of British officials were sent to Calais to help French authorities speed up the transfer of minors ahead of the dismantling of the "Jungle''.

The UK Government has faced criticism over efforts to identify and transfer youngsters, with campaigners including Citizens UK claiming to have identified hundreds of children in the camp who have a right to come to the UK.

Brian Larkin, co-ordinator of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, said: "Although a handful of children who have a legal right to asylum in the UK are at last being brought to the UK and reunited with their families this week, hundreds of others are being left behind. What does it say about us that we are abandoning these children?

"129 children have gone missing from Calais since the French government announced plans to demolish the camp and at least three children have died attempting to enter the UK.

"The UK Government has known about these children since July 2016 but has failed to act. A British Red Cross report found that some children legally entitled to asylum in the UK have been stranded in Calais for as long as 11 months.

"The government has failed to fulfil its promise under the 'Dubs amendment' to the Immigration Bill in July to take in thousands of lone children from across Europe. No more children must be lost.

"We want to send a message to the UK and French governments that we are watching and waiting for them to protect the children and treat all the people there with respect and dignity, and to honour their rights.

"We call, too, for France to ensure that any children not taken to the UK be sheltered before any move to demolish the camp.''

The vigil will take place at the east end of Princes Street between 5pm and 7pm.