Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Child migrants flood into Europe

As the European Union has started to send back illegal immigrants when they are caught without papers, ever more children are trying illegally to cross the Mediterranean in order to enter Europe. The ports of Morocco are full of hundreds of children as young as nine who live there, begging and sniffing glue (from which they occasionally die). They are sent, of course, by their own families, as the local UNICEF officials admit. Often whole villages club together to pay the 3,000 – 5,000 euros which are needed to pay the people traffickers. (The OSCE estimates that people trafficking now earns more money than drug running.) The children then work in Europe and send money home; because of the laws against repatriating children, they generally can stay even if they are caught by the police. In 2006 alone, more than one thousand children were stranded on the beaches of the Canaries (a favourite destination for illegal immigrants) and Spain, like many countries, has signed a UN convention which requires them to be housed, not sent back. There are now therefore some 7,000 child refugees living in Spain without their families. They try to survive until they are 18 at which time they can become legal residents. The children employ ever more inventive ruses to overcome the security measures which the port authorities use in order to try to prevent them reaching the boats. For instance, after the introduction of guard dogs, many of the children were bitten when they climbed over the fences to get to the quayside. But then they caught a bitch and lowered her down behind the fence on a rope: the guard dogs’ attention was sufficiently distracted in order to give them free passage. One of the children told a journalist he had hidden in the spare wheel box of a caravan – he eventually got caught in Spain and was nonetheless sent back to Morocco, from whence he is again trying to enter Europe. The children are completely fearless and they regularly take such risks that many of them do die. Ever smaller boats are being used to carry the illegals across the Mediterranean, often exclusively children. Of the 3,500 who drowned at sea last year trying to cross to Europe, therefore, many were children. Many accidents occur in the ports themselves, as children are run over by lorries, for instance: there are child casualties in the local hospital every day. [Die Welt, 26 August 2008]

-- From The European Journal. Sign up for FREE to John Laughland's 'Intelligence Digest' to find out what’s really happening in Europe --

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