Calais migrant child teeth check "un-Christian"


A Conservative party MP on Wednesday triggered a row after he suggested dental checks must be used to determine the age of migrants entering the United Kingdom from France under a new agreement reached between the two countries over refugee children.

It is believed that 39 children have arrived from the camp as its impoverished residents prepare for its dismantling later this month.

Mr Straw insisted he would not have ruled out the move when he ran the Home Office as he insisted that the asylum effort would be undermined if it turned out people had been lying about their age in order to gain entry to Britain.

"We work closely with the French authorities and their partner agencies to ensure all those who come to the United Kingdom from the camps in Calais are eligible under Dublin regulations".

But the British Dental Association said such checks would be unethical.

It is understood that further checks to be carried out will include interviews with relatives in the United Kingdom and fingerprinting to cross-check with other records which may contain age details.

It came after 14 unaccompanied child refugees with relatives in the United Kingdom arrived in the country from a camp in Calais, northern France, on Monday.

His long journey, which he shared with singer Lily Allen in a BBC Victoria Derbyshire film last week, began when he fled his home country to escape the Taliban.

The British government has refused calls for identifying health checks to be performed on child migrants arriving in Britain from Calais to determine their age.

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The children are being brought to the United Kingdom under the Dublin III Regulation, a piece of European legislation that recognises the importance of family unity. If they have no proof of age, officials consider their looks and demeanour.

However, photographs of some of the children have been printed on the front pages of some national newspapers, along with headlines questioning their ages.

The Daily Mail used Microsoft's How Old Do I Look? software to analyze a controversial photo of one of the migrants and it found that he was 38 years old, however that is just a rough estimate.

"We're talking about children and young adults as well who have been through incredible amounts of torture and intrusive medical tests are not necessarily going to be at all appropriate".

She added: "If there are issues about the age of the people who have come in this first cohort, then that can be looked at".

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, BDA said it condemned the calls by Davies and "vigorously opposed" the use of dental X-rays to determine age. Of 574 refugees checked, 371 were found to be over the age of 18.

Unicef said the official census of the camp now shows there are about 1,300 unaccompanied children in total, and there are 500 children who claim to have family in the UK.

Frances Trevena, acting head of policy and programmes for Coram Children's Legal Centre, said today that checking age is "notoriously difficult" and that there is "no way to accurately assess".

The children, who Britain said were aged between 14 and 17 and from countries including Syria and Sudan, are due to be followed by dozens more in the coming days.