Calais is at a breaking point.
Today I spoke with a 14 year old boy who arrived in Calais just a week ago. He was crying and he asked me when he would get to see his brother in the UK.
He looked at me with pleading eyes and said ‘Madam it took so long to get here and the way was hard. I have answered every question your friends asked me. When can I go?’ He was referring to the French volunteer legal team who will help with his claim. ‘I don’t like it here. My brother is waiting.’
How do I tell him it may be months, or even more than a year?
I also spoke to his brother on the phone in the UK. He said ‘Please help us. I am only 19 and I don’t understand the law. I am working every day to make a home for my brother. Please, please can you help him?’
What do I tell these kids? They leave countries torn apart by wars and places where people are persecuted in the belief that the UK is different – that the UK is a beacon of human rights and democracy. So how do I explain that, while the law exists to reunite them and the process has been created, the political will on the part of our government is simply not there?