The adult refugee children of Calais

Adult refugees who are apparently pretending to be minors in order to be allowed to travel to the UK before the camp in Calais is cleared are stirring up debate. London has held out the prospect of taking in up to 300 child refugees from Calais. Must the authorities introduce stringent controls to ensure that only real children get due protection? Or is the real crime the refusal to help adults in need?

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The Independent (GB) /

It's not just the young that need help

To refuse aid to refugees because they are above a certain age is cynical and cruel, rages The Independent and comments, sarcastically:

“It’s time we all learned to act properly towards anyone in need. If we see someone having a heart attack, it’s very important to act quickly and check they’re not feigning it as a ruse to get free biscuits at the cardiac unit. If an elderly person falls down the stairs, search their house for any clues they might be trying to swindle an insurance claim. Because when you look back at history, at the Huguenots fleeing France or the Jews escaping Germany, the people remembered with pride are those that had the courage to say: 'Some of them are over 18 - send them back, the bastards.'”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Without controls the mood will change

If adult refugees are able to cheat their way into the UK the British people's willingness to help won't last long, Judith Woods fears in The Daily Telegraph:

“Ultimately, the fault in all this lies with us, not the young men who wisely decided not to stow away illegally in a truck and chanced their arm by taking the legal route into the UK via a stint in the Calais Jungle. ... But unless we now put in place some effective, common-sense controls, the national mood will harden against all those under 18s who still urgently need our help. I hope these newcomers will work hard, pay taxes and contribute. Will they spare a second thought for the frightened parentless child whose legitimate place they have taken? Even if they don’t, we must never forget. Or let it happen again.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Medical tests to assess age of refugee children

Sweden is also concerned about determining the real age of refugees. The Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics has recommended offering unaccompanied boys a medical examination when their age is unclear. Sydsvenskan approves of the idea:

“Asylum seekers often arrive without documents providing proof of age, so this is ascertained through conversations and estimates based on maturity and appearance. With this approach there is the risk of adults being mistaken for children and children being mistaken for adults. It is up to asylum seekers to prove their age. So it would make a lot of sense to offer the option of medical age assessment. … The goal must be to make the asylum system more legally secure. Those who have good reason to seek asylum should be allowed to stay in the country - and not be under suspicion.”