France and Morocco have signed an agreement facilitating the forced return of Moroccan unaccompanied children. Crackdown on migrants in Calais continues.

On 7 December, the French Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, and his Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Ben Abdelkader, signed an agreement to pave the way for returning Moroccan unaccompanied children from France. During his visit in Rabat, Dupond-Moretti emphasised that the agreement aimed at putting in place “concrete tools” for the care of Moroccan unaccompanied children “in the interest” of the concerned. Based on information AFP obtained at site, the legal agreement would in the long run allow French judges to order returns on the basis of placement decisions issued by Moroccan youth magistrates. The agreement itself remains undisclosed. According to estimates by the French government and NGO’s, there are currently up to 40,000 unaccompanied minors in France. The agreement was reached only shortly after EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, had travelled to Morocco to discuss migration management, including readmission. A recently published ECRE working paper analyses EU-Morocco cooperation on return, readmission and reintegration, and provides recommendations for the future of EU-Morocco relations from a civil society perspective.

On 2 December, authorities in Calais have razed woods along roads and walking areas used as camping sites by migrants hiding from police and waiting for a chance to cross the Channel. This adds to repeated evictions and confiscations of tents and belongings in Calais. “Deforestation is clearly aimed at deterring exiles from settling down,” said François Guennoc from Auberge des Migrants. “My country is at war and look how we are being welcomed. We are beaten, gassed and now we are being hunted in the woods,” commented a 40-year old Sudanese, adding “Trees protect us from rain, wind and cold, for lack of a better option”.

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Photo: Radek Homola on Unsplash

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.