Britain stops taking child refugees from Calais ‘Jungle’ at request of French police

A child migrant from "The Jungle" camp in Calais arrives on a coach at an immigration processing centre in Croydon, Britain October 23, 2016. © Peter Nicholls
Britain has stopped receiving child refugees from the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp at the request of French authorities.

The Home Office told the London Evening Standard it “reluctantly agreed” to “temporarily” halt the transfer of child refugees to the UK.

“Due to planned operational activity in Calais, and at the request of the French authorities, we have reluctantly agreed that the transfer process will be temporarily paused,” a Home Office spokesman told the Standard.

French officials said around 200 children left the Jungle camp for Britain last week, after UK authorities agreed to let in those under the age of 18 with family in the country or who were judged to be vulnerable.

UK-based charity Help Refugees said there are 49 unaccompanied children waiting in the Calais camp who are 13 years of age and younger.

The group condemned the “chaotic” and “confusing” manner in which French and British authorities are handling the resettlement of refugee children.

French authorities are currently in the process of demolishing the so-called ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais, where an estimated 1,000 children are thought to live.

Our team on the ground have informed us that the Home Office have not been allowed to register children today. As such, the most vulnerable group, the under 13s (who would qualify under the Alf Dubs amendment) are being forced to remain in the Calais camp itself amidst all the confusion and chaos,” the group said in a statement.

Our latest census shows there are 49 unaccompanied children in the Calais camp who are 13 years old or under. All are eligible under the Dubs amendment for resettlement in the UK. There are also many unaccompanied girls remaining in camp who are eligible to come to the UK but who were not registered over the weekend.

Help Refugees added: “This chaotic set up is extremely distressing and confusing for the lone minors, the youngest of which is 8 years old (according to our last census). The younger children are struggling to understand where they are supposed to go, and how they are supposed to get there.”

Clashes erupted early on Monday morning between refugees and more than 1,200 French police as authorities swept in to begin evacuating and demolishing the camp.

Buses have begun transporting the majority of the camp’s residents to temporary shelters across France.

The Jungle is home to between 7,000 and 10,000 refugees and migrants fleeing war zones, repression and poverty. Many come from countries including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea and Somalia.