Hello from the ‘Dunkirk Legal Support Team’! We are a small group currently made up of 3/4 volunteers, working to support those on La Linière camp who have legal queries and cases.
We do not offer legal advice ourselves – we are not lawyers. But, we are a link between the camp residents and the legal associations. Some key organisations and actors who are involved with legal enquiries on camp like AFEJI, French Red Cross, La Cimade, MSF. Our role is to support such organisations – they are the experts, but we are on the ground regularly, and have more time to spend with the people, in order to refer and support the work that these organisations do.
The specific role of Dunkirk Legal Support Team is to provide social support to those who have legal enquiries. Our role can be flexible, and we seek to ‘problem solve’ the different problems found on camp. Often there is an external organisation who is able to help, and so we simply link the individual with this organisation, and check it is all going smoothly.
We can support with a range of problems:
⁃ Missing persons (local) – if someone has lost a relative or friend in France, we can try to help them find this person
⁃ Missing relative (international) – we can refer them to the Red Cross Family Tracing Unit
⁃ French legal letters – we can link them to La Cimade, who will help explain what the letters from prison/ police/ detention mean
⁃ Detention/ prison – if a relative or friend is in prison, we can support them with contact, with understanding the terms of stay, and possibly with legal representation
⁃ Enquiries about EU asylum/ immigration/ fingerprints – if people want more information/ advice about their particular situation and their route, we can link them to our contacts who can offer personalised advice
⁃ French asylum – we can link them to information and support regarding French asylum from La Cimade, which offers a different perspective to the AFEJI/OFII government perspective
⁃ Human trafficking – if you are concerned that someone may be a victim of human trafficking, we can refer to France Terre D’Asile, who are contracted to support such concerns.
⁃ Domestic Violence – we can seek advice from experts on this issue
⁃ Police Violence – if someone has experienced police violence, we can seek support from the Calais ‘Cabane’ in reporting this.
⁃ UK family reunion – in certain cases, we are able to assist vulnerable people who have relatives in the UK with their legal case.
To give you some examples of cases we are assisting with on the camp:
- A reunification case of a 14 year old unaccompanied Afghan minor, who is living on a refugee camp in France. Working alongside on La Cimade, MSF, and AFEJI on this case.W.A. parents forced him to flee Afghanistan about 5 months ago. He left the village where he grew up, which was at that moment in a province controlled by Taliban. He fled a few days after his brother. Since then he hasn’t had contact with his parents or brother. Another two siblings were killed during fights in the province. Before he and his brother left Afghanistan both of them spent about one month in a qur’anic school where he was trained to be Taliban fighter or suicide bomber.He has an adult relative in the UK who is keen to take care of him in the UK. This case is a bit complicated because there are no documents to prove the family link. But there are DNA tests, which are available to establish that without any doubts. We are currently looking for an immigration lawyer specialised in family reunification, who can help W.A. to join his family in the UK.
- Iraqi-Kurd family fled Iraq due to father’s political activity. Claimed asylum in Norway. The claim was rejected and the family voluntarily left Norway. However their personal documents and proofs were taken and kept by the Norwegian authorities. We are currently working to claim them back, so the family can search for asylum in another European country. At the moment the family is stuck in the camp without any way of getting their papers back and legalising their status in any European country.
- A father and two children on the camp went through a family reunification process with a French and British lawyer. Our team has been the link on the terrain. The UK has accepted the take charge request and currently the father and children are waiting for the French government to transfer them. Our current role in this case is to ensure that the father and the two children have social support during the extended waiting period.
It is really important that we are able to continue our work on La Linière camp- so please consider adding our project to your organisation!