Police Brutality Against Children: as young as a few months old

Help4Refugee Children traveled yesterday to see children in Northern France who have been not only brutally displaced from their home countries by war and terrorism but also shunned by every single European Government and brutalised and in some cases even beaten by police who are “just doing their jobs”. We saw a three-year-old with a baton bruise in his face. Every week the police go to the camp and dismantle everything which has been put up, to ensure that, nothing permanent is erected and to prevent the formation of a camp; we heard the heart-breaking story of a mother who when the police came had refused to leave her tent about to be bulldozed and told the police “no, I am not leaving, my baby is inside sleeping” the police officer then said “ok” and took out his pepper spray and sprayed her and the occupants of the tent.

There were many, many families, some of them had recently arrived and some had returned to gather following the destruction of the Jungle and the tragic and devastating fire in Dunkirk. The French authorities have played a sinister trick and removed the Jungle, making people believe that the problem is no longer there. However, this is a lie… refugees have not vanished into thin air; They are there, and they live in much worse conditions than we have ever seen.


We prepared and distributed 250 food packs, containing fruit, biscuits, water and bread plus an additional 30 for the smaller children with the support of Just Shelter who also offered their experience and support during the distribution which was seamless and above all, carried out in the most dignified way possible. We also had a limited supply of clothing and child care essentials which were given to the mothers.

We had planned creative arts therapeutic activities for the children, but when we set up, many adults asked to take part! So, we set up another station where adults got their creative groove on and produced stunning works!

For more pictures, please visit our Facebook page.

We also delivered almost 100 packs with essential survival items for the unaccompanied minors, donated by the Separated Child Foundation, supplied essentials requested by the Refugee Youth Service and Women Centre. We provided food donations for the RCK Kitchen and essential clothing items provided by Stand Up to Racism – South London. Furthermore, this trip was made possible by the funding of a van by the NUT, who collaborated with Stand Up to Racism by donating funds for the Euro-tunnel crossing and fuel.

This trip was only possible by the amazing collaboration of volunteers and organisations whose aims and focus were to help those most in need.

With special thanks to all of our volunteers and a warm mention of:

Heloise Heau who ran half a marathon in Paris to raise money towards this trip with which we supported the RCK Kitchen, Refugee Youth Service and Women’s Centre.
One person’s vision to provide “something for refugees” at the end of Ramadan – Joao Paqueno who was sponsored by Soledad Thompson to fund towards the food packs.

Thank you and thank you for reading our newsletter to all our supporters.

In Solidarity

The Help4Refugee Children Team


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He Was Not Deported

Dear Supporters

We bring some good news and also a testament that power really can belong to the people. You may remember a recent petition we sent you asking you to sign to oppose the deportation of the dad of an 8 month old baby, which threatened to leave behind a young mother and child in France, alone and in a desperate plea to reach the U.K.

In a protest organised by Collectif La Chapelle Debout and supported by:

Mouvement Ni Putes Ni Soumises
Dunkirk / Dunkerque Refugee Women’s Centre
Help4Refugee Children
SOS Racisme
Collectif citoyens Maubeuge for their support.

Protesters raised awareness in the airport, on the day the dad was due to be deported and informed passengers of the situation and asked them to speak out and oppose the deportation on their flight. Passengers, once on the plane, refused to sit down and eventually he was removed from the flight.

The future of this young couple remains uncertain, however they now get another chance to bring their appeal to a new judge who will decide if he can stay in France.

Thank you to all of those who have supported this cause and continue to advocate for and support refugees.

We would also like to mention a special thank you to the Dunkirk / Dunkerque Refugee Women’s Centre for their continued outstanding work in Northern France.

In Solidarity

The Help4Refugee Children Team

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Father of 8-month old baby risks deportation to Afghanistan

Dear Supporters

Help4RefugeeChildren is raising awareness for a family we have been working closely with for two years. Maryam and her husband came to Calais to escape the terror and oppression of their own countries. One month ago Maryam’s husband, who is from Afghanistan was arrested and detained. When Maryam, who is from Iran, visited her husband with their 8 month old baby, who was born in Calais, she was herself detained by the French authorities and had her baby taken away from her. Eventually Maryam was released and her baby returned to her.

Maryam’s husband now faces deportation to Afghanistan from France and their family is at risk of being torn apart. Please sign our petition to reunite Maryam and her baby with their husband.

The behaviour of the French authorities towards Maryam and her family has been absolutely scandalous. Maryam should never have been detained and separated from her baby.


We first met Maryam, when she was expecting her baby in ‘The old Jungle’ in Calais. This is an image (right) is of a later afternoon we spent in the company of Maryam and her warm family after the demolition that camp. Here we were in Dunkirk, were we also delivered among general aid such as food and clothing, lights and power banks to her and the families in then living in Dunkirk.

By sending Maryam’s husband to Afghanistan, the French authorities are putting his life at risk. Afghanistan is a country deemed high risk and one EU citizens are recommended not to travel to. There have been countless terrorist attacks throughout Afghanistan, wounding and killing many.

Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to the ongoing risk of kidnapping, hostage taking, military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, militant attacks, direct and indirect fire, suicide bombings, and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IED). Attacks may also target official Afghan and U.S. government convoys and compounds, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, restaurants, hotels, airports, and educational centres.

There is a very real threat to the safety of Maryam’s husband if he is deported to Afghanistan and for this reason he should be offered refuge within Europe, he should not be sent back to a dangerous country.

Germany has paused its own deportation flights to Afghanistan and other European countries are considering the same move. British deportations resumed last year after the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Theresa May, then the Home Secretary, and declared Kabul safe for the return of refugees. However, despite the British Government declaring Kabul “safe” for asylum seekers, it does not apply the same designation for its own official staff. Government employees are kept inside the heavily guarded safe “green zone” whenever possible, being ferried around under armed guard if they are required to leave. The three-mile journey from British offices to Kabul airport is frequently made by helicopter because of dangers along the road. These double standards are completely unjust. Is the safety of British Government officials of greater importance than the safety of refugees?

We demand that the UK and France defer deportations until the situation in these countries improves.


In Solidarity

The Help4Refugee Children Team

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Summary from our June Trip to Calais & Dunkirk

Saturday June 3, 2017; some of our volunteers visited Calais to provide aid to the refugees who had been stranded after the Dunkirk camp burnt down.

Fruits, water, toiletries, nappies and milk was distributed. Arrival packs donated by The Separated Child Foundation which contained a towel, socks and underwear, warm clothing, a waterproof kackets, gloves, a hat and a scarf and other essentials were given to the warehouse.

For refugees who lack the most basic necessities of life, this arrival pack makes an important difference to their everyday life.

In the afternoon, we met with some of the children and family we knew from the Calais Jungle and who now live crammed behind an industrial estate in a small metal shipping container. The conditions they live in are so precarious and unsafe! Yet, those mothers are striving to keep their babies safe.

We played with the children and ran some arts and crafts workshop. These activities are a breath of fresh air for those children who have been robbed of their childhood. Their smiles are priceless and remind us why we got involved in the first place.

We will be travelling to Calais again on June 25th, on a trip in collaboration with Stand Up To Racism – South London to deliver essential aid. As part of this trip, we will also be arranging collections to be taken to the Care4Calais warehouse in Calais. For more information and to arrange a drop off, please email us: help4refugeechildren@gmail.com.

If you’d like to support our trip, you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/4refugeechildren

In solidarity

The Help4Refugee Children Team

These are some photos from our trip below.

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We would like to thank Steph Goodger for kindly fundraising for us.

Please take a look at her powerful paintings representing the Calais Refugee Camp, otherwise known as the Jungle during the demolitions.  You can find more about the work we did in the camp during this time, by reading our report here.

This collection of paintings has a tremendous significance for us and we hope the money raised will go a long way in providing relief to women and children in the Dunkirk Refugee Champ

7 Signed limited edition prints by Steph Goodger
All proceeds towards the Help4Refugee Children & Women Dunkirk appeal
Giclée prints by Steph Goodger Atelier are available at SYSON in a range of sizes and are priced between £42-£130.


These are 7 signed limited edition giclée prints on archival rag paper by Steph Goodger, taken from a series of oil paintings the artist recently completed of the Calais Jungle. The title of the series, The Twilight Kingdom, is taken from TS Eliot’s poem, The Hollow Man. Eliot describes it as a kind of limbo place; as twilight is a kind of limbo time. Goodger has made a series of paintings based on the last week of the life of the jungle before its dramatic closure in late October, 2016. This action left the population, already weakened by war and human rights violations, left adrift in what the artist describes as a ‘maze of administration’ only to reappear on the streets of Calais or Dunkirk, sleeping rough months later. The artist is donating all the proceeds of these print sales to the Help4Refugee Children appeal for Women and Children to buy food, clothing, sleeping bags, tents, basic toiletries and sanitary products.



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Visiting Dunkirk This April

We are going back to Dunkirk this April to run workshops with the children in the Children’s Center and also with women in the Women’s Center. During this trip, we will also be bringing 200 non-electrical lights and batteries to the Dunkirk Refugee Camp on a project made possible by a grant received from Donate4Refugees.

17498824_1872709712952105_8395803176780825198_nThe shelters in Dunkirk are dark, even in the day, these lights have been requested by the people of the camp, to be able to restore a level of normality in their lives. We hope these lights will have a positive impact in the lives of refugees and will keep you posted with an update soon.


We will also deliver aid to the camp as well as food to the kitchens.

All the money received from this date will be spent in this trip, the more we receive the more aid we will be able to take over with us and provide to support the most vulnerable.

Please donate what you can and help us make this trip have a positive impact in the lives of refugees.


Help us collect

Apart from taking essential donations and for which we are still collecting ( sleeping bags,
thermal gloves, small & medium waterproof men’s jackets, emergency Blankets, flapjacks…) we are also collecting the items below for the children and team at Dunkirk Refugee Children’s Centre


Please contact us to arrange drop offs : help4refugeechildren@gmail.com

A fun night out did you say?

Last but not least, don’t forget about our comedy fundraiser this Wednesday! We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible. More details here.

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March with us to show solidarity with refugees on 18/03

March Against Racism: Refugees Welcome Bloc

Refugees have had an increasingly tough time in recent months from the UK and other European Governments. From the brutal demolition of the Calais Jungle, to the broken promise of bringing 3,000 refugee children into the country, refugees are being abandoned by Britain and Europe to destitution, drowning and exploitation.

As part of the UN Anti-Racism Day and following the rise of racist attacks, islamophobia and hate crime, Help4Refugee children and many other organisations will stand up to racism and shout loud and clear that no human is illegal and refugees are welcome in the UK.

Join us on the 18th March at 11.30 am at All Souls Church, Langham Place.

We will march for our children, for a better world, for equality and dignity for all. That day will be a first step in the right direction.

Join us in saying YES to a world where refugees and migrants are safe and welcome!

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/780104822140775/

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Enact Lord Dubs Amendment Now! #DUBSNOW Demonstration.


On February 8 2017, the UK Government backtracked on a pledge to take Syrian child refugees.

Just hours before the final vote on the triggering of Article 50 the government quietly announced it would allow just 350 unaccompanied Syrian children to come to the UK, thousands short of the figure suggested by government sources last year.

It is shameful that our government and other powerful authorities around the world are not doing more to help unaccompanied, vulnerable child refugees. It is shameful and sad that these children do not have a home and little to no sense of belonging. There is a shocking lack of urgency in the government’s response that leaves young children forced to continue living in intolerable conditions. We must make a stand and unite against this, its inhumane.

Children in refugee camps in Europe, such as Dunkirk in Northern France have been facing life alone as they’re abandoned and forgotten about by probably a large proportion of the world. Many of the children from the Calais camp were lured out of the camp with the promise of a better life in the UK, today they remain in France and how that promise has been broken. They remain without any hope for family re-unification here in the UK.

These children are fighting an up-hill battle that will consequently serve them with no happy ending. MSF revelaed this week that, in the first 6 weeks of 2017, 1300 unaccompanied children and teenagers have braved the central alone.

These innocent refugee children are being treated disgustingly, the heart-wrenching thing is, is that many are left with such traumatic flashbacks; their past is constantly haunting them. Their past experiences are leaving them damaged for life, torn inside, confused and most of all, helpless.

All the these children want and strive for security, for a better tomorrow, for their family to appear. Yet it is starkly the opposite, their reality and foreseeable future appears far from bright.

We demand that the Dubs Amendment is Enacted Now, we will not rest until every last child is brought to safety.


In Solidarity

Help4refugee Children

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News from the children in Dunkirk

Dear Supporters

Our first trip of the New Year to Dunkirk reunited us with familiar faces and introduced us to new families. For some of our volunteers it was their first visit to Dunkirk and there were clear contrasts with Calais. The shelters in Dunkirk lack any windows leaving families in complete darkness and there are few spaces for adults and children to study, eat or relax.

While we were happy to see children we had first met in the Jungle wrapped in scarves and hoods, we met many young people with no more than a thin coat to protect them from the bitter wind. However, inside the Red Cross’ Butterfly House were we ran our activities children were able to warm up and take part in a variety of creative activities.

Children made beautiful t-shirts and masks and used volunteers as canvases to create distinctive designs with face paints! Many families brought their babies and toddlers who were also able to enjoy drawing and face painting. It was particularly nice to see the way in which teenagers helped younger children to make bracelets and masks, as well as adults helping volunteers to engage young people!. Thank you to the Red Cross volunteers Chloe and Mohsen for all their help in organising our workshop and kindly sharing their beautiful family centre with us!

We hope to continue to work with The Butterfly House in the future providing workshops for children and support for the many vulnerable families which access the centre. Your support has allowed us to continue to provide vital resources to families in Dunkirk and Paris facing severe weather conditions this month.

For pictures from our trip, please follow this link:

Please consider donating again and also sharing this appeal with your friends and family as we are now planning our second trip to the camp, which we will also focus on bringing essential aid now needed by the families and children, such as nappies, wipes, fruit, warm items of clothing alongside other essentials.

In Solidarity

The Help4Refugee Children Team

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Where do we go from here?


It has been hard for those of us who care to miss any news about what has happened to the Calais camp. I’m going to focus mainly on the treatment that minors received during the demolitions which have been taking place in Calais since Monday 24; and also briefly outline the overall treatment received by all camp residents.

On Friday September 2nd news came that the camp would be demolished by the French Authorities. The knowledge that refugees had of this came from charities working on the ground who had worked to verify details with the prefecture. The reason for this was simple: with approaching elections in France, and the threat from the far-right Front National, the government was determined to show itself tough on refugees, and on the Calais camp in particular.

The decision soon solidified and a date was scheduled for Monday October 24th. No one knew how this would happen, hence as the coming days neared there was a sense of confusion and fear in the camp.

Those that had a right to be in UK under the Dubs amendment, knew little about what process would be followed and many minors were too scared to register or approach the CRS for advice (who in their right mind would approach the CRS?) . Volunteers were the people who were there for support and guidance, including giving legal advice detailing what their rights were should they be detained. Nor at any point were there any Gov appointed translators present and no support other than that which was provided by the charities on the ground, this has been a feature of the camp in the last year….it has been sustained by the solidarity of largely British volunteers and the resilience of the refugees themselves.

It was expected, given the treatment that refugees have been receiving in the camp (regular tear gassing, assaults from CRS), that the process of demolition would be brutal, disorganized and dehumanising. It was, and in fact it was worse than anyone expected. At no point did the French or British authorities act with any concern towards the wellbeing of refugees.


Over the course of the demolitions, many human rights were violated, including the following:

  • Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which stipulates that everyone has a right to “respect for his private and family life, [and] his home.”
  • The Children Act 1989 which should ensure children are safeguarded and their welfare is promoted.
  • Article 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which is the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhumane way.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 which should offer multiple protections to children, and of which both France and the UK are signatories.

The Demolitions:

Tuesday 25th. The demolitions began in tradition to the treatment that refugees have been receiving in the camp until then.

At 5am people were lured out of the camp, including children, with the promise of reunification with their families in the UK.  Up to 3,000 people were processed within two hours; this allowed little more than 20 seconds per person. Among the things that were decided in this short time was whether a refugee claiming to be a minor was telling the truth or not.

A little after 9am, registration closed and refugees were told to go back to the camp and return the next day. Some minors were housed temporarily in the containers, which had been emptied of the previous residents in the early hours of that day.

After the processing refugees were given a bracelet each, denoting the status they had been given and indicating to the authorities in which coach they would get on. Thirteen out of the approximately 1,000 children were brought to the UK under the Dubs amendment that day. When the children arrived, the UK public was exposed to a hate campaign by the media and scare mongering news stating that these children were in fact adults, not real refugees and that teeth testing should be put in place. I personally recognised some of the children which newspapers negligently published pictures of and it was heart wrenching to think that they would be met with the hostility that the media had been fueling against them.

At this point the dismantling had already begun to take place and this was followed by serious fires during the night and devastating explosions in the camp caused by gas cylinders. Some people also burned their own shelters to prevent them being brutally destroyed, it was what little control they had over their own lives. These events worsened what was already a traumatic situation.  

On October 26th the same process followed and at approximately 12.15pm, the authorities started to turn children away from the registration, stating that the containers were full. The containers were themselves now at this point completely trashed and unsanitary with overflowing urinals, and chaos reigned alongside police violence. This meant that many children were now left further traumatised and homeless. These vulnerable young people should have been offered safety and child protection, not forced to witness more destruction. The camp should NOT have been demolished before proper plans were put in place for the unaccompanied minors.

Here we might pause to consider whether the states (France and Britain) that have deliberately exposed children to the conditions I’ve described are breaching a number of human rights conventions. (In fact, lawyers for the children’s defense are actively pursuing this issue right now.)

– A number of minors not yet registered for the container camp slept under a bridge on the Jungle’s perimeter that night. (26th)

– Children housed in the containers were surrounded by the camp and affected by smoke from fires, as well as having to witness the destruction and violence around them.

The main concern remained that the children, the most vulnerable people in the ‘Jungle’, were sleeping without protection from the state. This concern was never reflected in how the authorities approached the situation.


On October 27th –  Registration closed at 1pm and hundreds of children were sent back into a burning Jungle. That night the children slept on the cold ground in front of the containers they were supposed to be housed in. Another forty slept in the ‘école laique’, the school which had been a sanctuary in the camp for over a year, with volunteers who watched over them, when no one else would. They were not given accommodation because they hadn’t been registered. Sadly the school was demolished the following day.

That night, large fires continued to burn through a large number of restaurants, shops, shelters and tents inside the camp, as well as volunteer-run projects such as the Women and Children’s Bus, Baloo’s Youth Centre and the Hummingbird Safe Space.
Charities continued to tirelessly plead with the French and British authorities, to grant these incredibly vulnerable children protection as a matter of urgency.


In the morning of Friday 28th, at least 100 children were waiting in the minors’ line to be processed at the registration centre. The centre was closed, and no officials present. Many of these were eligible under the Dubs amendment and under the Dublin III family reunification process. The children were told to go back to the container camp and Jungle.

Police then began arresting and forcibly removing some of these children because they did not have wristbands, giving them no explanation or translators. They were taken to the PAF ‘Police Anti Frontier’ & told they were a criminal threat. They were later released and were forced to sleep rough.

All charities continued to desperately alert MPs that the home office must do more on the ground to protect these children.

29th October · At noon, Fabienne Buccio, regional prefect, told the Associated Press that ‘operations to clear the camp had been completed’. However, numerous NGOs and our own volunteers report that this is untrue.

Meanwhile no press or filming was being allowed in the camp. Sadly, and to everyone’s desperation, the media began reporting that the clearance of the camp had been successful, when in fact this was far from the truth.

Saturday 30th . To the horror of all the volunteers watching and in the midst of all the chaos, all the media left the camp, and it was reported later that night by the BBC that the camp was cleared and that no refugees were left; this was completely untrue.

The next day, people were again lined up for processing and a similar procedure followed, but this time when the minors were sent back to the camp, they cried – they did not want to go back as most of it by now had been destroyed.

And so this process continued for another five grueling days and nights.

If we believed that refugees were like ourselves, this treatment of human beings would not have been tolerated.

[On the afternoon of 21st March 2016 the “Dubs Amendment” was passed in the House of Lords, to allow 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children to come to the UK from Europe. The UNHCR estimates that there are 24,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe and Dubs calculates that 3,000 would be the UK’s fair share to take.

The battle for human rights for these people should not have been fought by small independent charities, but by the institutions that we have in place as a society. The suffering and distress that refugees were put under during this demolition, was unnecessary and could have been avoided had there been a proper disaster relief strategy in place by the British and French Government.  Their actions were disgusting and unacceptable.

The last year has shown us beyond doubt that offering sanctuary to refugees fleeing wars, that often our government has played a part in initiating, will never happen if left to the benevolence of governments in Europe.just this week hundreds more refugees have drowned off the coast of Libya…..this year has now seen the highest deaths in the Med on record. The only way we can win justice for refugees is from below, organising among the overwhelming majority who want more done for refugees, building this movement can transform Britain into a place that welcomes refugees and puts an end to the kind of barbarism we saw in the destruction of the camp over the last couple of weeks.

We would like to thank all that donated during these critical last days of the camp, your donations helped to provide provisions to the most vulnerable. We will continue our work to support refugees in France and here and in UK. This the end of an era but by no means the end of this crisis.

In Solidarity,

The Help4Refugee Children Team
e: help4refugeechildren@gmail.com

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