This week, bus loads of Muslim so-called ‘child’ migrants arrived from the Calais Jungle after being branded “unaccompanied” minors. However, their ages have been brought into question when migrants who looked like grown men arrived in Croydon, Surrey.
Independent MP David Davies suggested their ages should be checked using radiographs on their teeth – but the British Dental Association said it was “vigorously opposed” to the method of assessment, labelling such a move inappropriate. The British Association of Social Workers joined criticism of David Davies, after the Monmouth MP said “hulking teenagers who look older than 18” should undergo the tests.
But the British people are “sick to death of being taken for an absolute idiot” by the Government after photographs showed the young men, some of whom had visible stubble, boarding a minibus destined for the UK.
Davies said “When I was in the camp in Calais there were caravans with notices on saying ‘Come here, we will coach you in what to say to get into the UK’.” “Someone who is willing to throw themselves on to an electrified rail line, or jump into a moving lorry, isn’t going to be terribly worried about having an X-ray.”
However, The Times reported that, in the year up to September 2015, nearly two thirds of child refugees whose age was questioned by officials were found to be over 18. Of 590 asylum applicants whose age was disputed, 574 were recorded as having an age assessment. Of those, 65 per cent were found to be adults.
UK Daily Mail The second wave of ‘child’ migrants from the Jungle Camp arrived in Britain today with 300 more set to follow in their footsteps in the coming week. Refugees, who the Government claims are aged 14 to 17, arrived at the UK Visas and Immigration office in Croydon, south London, by coach as part of a fast-track system to move youngsters from the French migrant camp before it is demolished.
Some waved to the waiting cameras as they stepped off the packed bus before being escorted into the main building by UK border enforcement officers.
The so-called “youngsters,” from war-torn countries including Syria and Sudan, join the 14 that arrived at the immigration centre yesterday. They are entitled to move to the UK under EU asylum law due to their family ties to those already in the UK – and 300 more are expected to arrive in the coming days.
It comes as critics claim some of the ‘children’ arriving look older than their teenage years, and warned that some adults may be posing as children to abuse the scheme.
After photographs of the refugees arriving were published, Iain McGregor wrote: ‘Does the British Foreign Office think we are stupid? I was expecting kids under the age of 16, not over the age of 21.’
Another added: ‘When I read child migrants I thought it was youngsters. These are young men!!’. And David Moore said: ‘Lie about your age and you get a ride into the land of milk and honey. Don’t think they will be asked for ID at the pub.’
Others commented that some of the ‘children’ had managed to grow facial hair, while Mr Davies questioned why no girls or women had been brought to Britain.
He told The Telegraph: ‘These young men don’t look like minors to me. They are hulking teenagers who look older than 18. I’m all for helping the genuine children but the well of goodwill is rapidly being exhausted here.
‘I’m also curious that there are no young women – I would have thought they would be much more vulnerable. I worry that once again British hospitality is being abused.
‘There is no way of knowing if someone is a child. We could end up causing even more misery if we are not careful. We should invite anyone who wants to come to the UK to take dental tests.’
Officials insist the migrants have undergone rigorous interviews and document checks to establish they are aged under 18. But it has emerged that this is simply a screening process where they are verified as a child based on their ‘physical appearance’ and ‘demeanour’, with social workers signing off an ‘age assessment’.
A Home Office spokesman admitted that routine medical tests, such as checking dental records, have not been carried out because it could be ‘intrusive’.
An aid worker in Calais also raised concerns that adults may be lying about their age to gain entry into Britain. The worker said: ‘It is a complete mess. Those at the front of the queue are not the most needy and vulnerable – they are adults pretending to be children.’
Daniel Gadi, a nine-year-old boy from Eritrea, was also among those still left at the camp. His father Abaye said he wanted his son to be looked after by his late wife’s sister in London, but had not been accepted as he is not an unaccompanied child.
However, a Home Office spokesman said the child migrants may look older because fleeing war zones had ‘probably toughened them up so they’ve grown up a bit quicker’. Officials insist the migrants underwent rigorous interviews and checks on documents they carried to establish they were aged under 18.
Charities estimate up to 10,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia have settled in the ‘Jungle’ in the hope of reaching Britain, but French authorities are expected to close it down by the end of the year.