A group of Ethiopian migrants claiming to have been between 14 – 17 years old in order to boost their chances of asylum in the United Kingdom have switched their stories on deciding to remain in France – revealing to authorities that almost all are over the age of 18, with many in their mid to late twenties.
Having spent the winter at a migrant reception center in the Mediterranean coastal town of Saintes-Maries-de-la Mer, the group – realizing that the UK was no longer an option – collectively approached authorities with their decision to apply for asylum in France, coming clean on their ages.
Pretty Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was selected to house one of France’s 450 migrant reception centers and received a contingent of migrants from the Calais ‘jungle’ last autumn. An estimated 10,000 migrants had inhabited the squalid encampment, located outside the northern port city of Calais, making nightly attempts to reach the UK by climbing onto trucks, into shipping containers and even on foot via the Channel Tunnel.
Of the 68 ‘unaccompanied minors’ to arrive at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer from Calais, 16 succeeded in obtaining permission to enter the UK, a small number absconded and the rest have since decided to remain permanently in France.
Tensions were high in December when a number of the group reacted violently to the news that they would not be accepted into the UK, threatening to cut the throat of an interpreter and trashing the center’s dining hall according to a political party communiqué circulated at the time.
During the same episode, two women visiting from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) were forced to lock themselves in an office in fear of their lives and some twenty police were required to restore order, France Bleu radio reported.
Aside from this event, it appears that the migrants benefited from their stay in the touristic Mediterranean town, partaking in various activities provided by the center and its volunteers, from art and cooking classes to sports, musical events and day trips around the region. The center closed its doors late last week, with the 46 remaining migrants being sent to several other locations in the region including the cities of Nîmes and Montpellier, where they will reside whilst their asylum applications are being assessed.
Based on their membership of East Africa’s persecuted Oromo people, the applications are likely to be approved – making up one third of the country’s 100 million-plus population, the Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest minority group.
Speaking to local radio, a 26 year old member of the group explained that they had been told in Calais that the chances for admission to the UK would be greater if they could qualify as minors. Now having decided to stay in France, it was no longer necessary to lie about their ages, the young man explained.
The story highlights the ideological bent of the mainstream media in their reporting of ‘unaccompanied minors’ seeking asylum in European countries, as they hold steadfast to claims by certain NGOs and open borders activists that such migrants are underage when physical evidence often shows them to be full grown men, sometimes well into their twenties, thirties and beyond.
The phenomenon has promoted derision on social media with memes circulating of visibly elderly men claiming child migrant status, one of which caused outrage at Westminster last year when it was posted in a kitchen serving Members of Parliament.
In the style of a fundraising announcement for an overseas aid charity, the image of an elderly man was sub-captioned with the claim that £3 a week could ”clothe and feed” a Syrian child, angering certain MPs and creating a storm in a tea-cup on Twitter.
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