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Refugees Endure Rape, Violence Inside French Dunkirk Camp

The Dunkirk refugee campThe Dunkirk refugee camp

Children and women are being raped by traffickers inside a refugee camp in northern France, according to detailed testimony gathered ahead of fresh legal action against the UK government’s approach to the welfare of unaccompanied minors.

Corroborating accounts from volunteers, medics, refugees and security officials reveal that sexual abuse is common within the large camp at Dunkirk and that children and women are forced to have sex by traffickers in return for blankets or food or the offer of passage to the UK, the Guardian reported.

Legal proceedings will be issued by London-based Bindmans against the British Home Office, which is accused of acting unfairly and irrationally by electing to settle only minors from the vast Calais camp that closed last October, ignoring the child refugees gathered in Dunkirk, 40 miles away along the coast.

The legal action, brought on behalf of the Dunkirk Legal Support Team and funded by a crowd justice scheme, says the Home Office’s approach was arbitrary and mean-spirited.

On Wednesday, the government’s approach to child refugees provoked widespread indignation when the home secretary, Amber Rudd, announced the decision to end the “Dubs scheme”, having allowed just 350 children to enter the UK, 10% of the number most MPs and aid organizations had been led to believe could enter.

Accounts from those at the camp, which currently holds up to 2,000 refugees, of whom an estimated 100 are unaccompanied minors, portray a squalid site with inadequate security and atrocious living conditions.

The Dunkirk Legal Support Team says the failure of the authorities to guard the site has allowed the smugglers to take control. 

One volunteer coordinator, who has worked at the camp’s women’s center since October 2016, said, “Sexual assault, violence and rape are all far too common. Minors are assaulted and women are raped and forced to pay for smuggling with their bodies.” 

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