France urges U.K to do its part for young refugees

A boy rides a bicycle on the remains of the makeshift migrant camp known as
A boy rides a bicycle on the remains of the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Thousands of migrants dispersed this week from the now-torched camp they had called home in Calais are struggling to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings in towns and villages throughout France. Photo: AP AP/Thibault Camus

FRANCOIS Hollande has urged British authorities to "play their part" to settle 1,500 unaccompanied minors left in Calais.

The French President said the children, most of whom are living in shipping containers in the remains of the so-called Jungle camp, would be transferred "very quickly" elsewhere.

Mr Hollande said his country "cannot tolerate" conditions in makeshift camps like the Jungle, describing them as "not worthy" of France as officials stepped up efforts to finish demolishing the almost-deserted Calais migrant camp.

"There are 1,500 minors isolated in Calais. They will be transferred very quickly to other centres," he told reporters at a reception centre in Doue-la-Fontaine in west France.

The President said he had spoken to British Prime Minister Theresa May to ensure British officials would "accompany these minors to these centres and would play their part in subsequently welcoming them to the United Kingdom".

"Over a short period of time we will be able to evacuate the totality of what was called the camp of Calais," he said.

His comments come two days after Home Secretary Amber Rudd reminded French authorities of their duty to "properly protect" children, amid reports that youngsters were forced to sleep rough around the smouldering remains of the camp.

Three huge diggers moved in to clear the debris of makeshift dwellings in the northern section of the camp which until Tuesday had been home to between 6,000 and 8,000 migrants.

Charity workers said they had been forced to spend every night since the demolition began ringing round shelters trying to find accommodation for children who the authorities had failed to house.

"It was difficult to get children on to buses because they didn't have much faith in the system," said Dorothy Sang, a humanitarian adviser at Save the Children.

"They didn't believe that their cases would be followed up if they were taken out of Calais."

A Home Office spokesperson said:"[The Home Secretary] reaffirmed the UK's commitment to working with the French to make sure all minors eligible to come to the UK continue to be transferred as quickly as possible.

"Any child either not eligible or not in the secure area of the camp should be cared for and safeguarded by the French authorities. We understand specialist facilities have been made available elsewhere in France to ensure this happens."

Topics:  editors picks france migration refugees united kingdom

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