‘Desperate’ Afghan children go on hunger strike in France in bid to rejoin families in UK

Charities warn of rising anxiety among 1,600 dispersed young people amid reports of lack of information from authorities

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Social workers check migrants from Calais at a new centre at Porte de la Chapelle in Paris, France. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

 

Three 16-year-olds from Afghanistan have begun a hunger strike in France in protest at the slow process of being reunited with their families in the UK, according to a refugee legal organisation.

Three weeks after the demolition of the Calais camp, several charities say there is rising anxiety among the 1,600 children and young people who were dispersed to disused elderly people’s homes and youth hotels across France without being given information about their future.

The Red Cross and Save the Children have called on the Home Office to urgently provide basic information to children and French hostel staff about the expected timescale for processing applications to come to the UK.

The three boys from Afghanistan who are on hunger strike have been trying to get permission to join relatives in the UK for several months, and had been living in tents in Calais for more than six months, according to Laura Griffiths, a senior field manager for Safe Passage UK. “It is a sign of their desperation at being forgotten,” she said. The organisation was in regular contact with the boys since they stopped eating last week and was trying to convince them to stop the protest, she said.

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