France’s president has urged Britain to take its share of responsibility for migrant children who remain in Calais after the “Jungle” camp was cleared.
Francois Hollande said 1,500 unaccompanied minors who were still in the port city would be taken to accommodation centres very shortly.
Migrants fleeing war and poverty had used the sprawling Jungle site as a staging post to try and reach the UK.
The UK has so far agreed to take in about 250 of the children from there.
A government spokesperson said the UK remained “firmly committed to working with the French to safeguard and protect children who remain in Calais – and that includes transferring eligible children to the UK safely and as soon as possible”.
The Jungle had been seen as a key symbol of Europe’s failure to deal with the worst migrant crisis since World War Two.
Read more on this story:
- The week the migrant camp was cleared
- Anger in new host town for Calais migrants
- What next after the Jungle?
- How are child migrants’ ages checked?
At least 1,500 minors have been staying at a special container camp at the site, but it has been full and many children have also reportedly been sleeping rough.
Mr Hollande said he and UK Prime Minister Theresa May had discussed British officials processing them in France with a view to rehousing them in the UK.
“I talked yesterday [Friday] with the British prime minister, as [French Interior Minister] Bernard Cazeneuve did with his British counterpart, so that the British can go to those centres with those minors and take their share to welcome them in Britain,” he said.
Mr Hollande was speaking during a visit to an accommodation centre for migrants in Doue-la-Fontaine in western France.
He hailed the evacuation of the Calais Jungle as a success.
“There were no incidents from start to finish,” Mr Hollande said. “We had to rise to the challenge of the refugee issue. We could not tolerate the camp and we will not tolerate any others.”
He added the encampments springing up in the capital Paris would be forced to close.
Many of the 5,000 people evacuated from the Jungle have been taken to reception centres around France, where they are being processed and will be able to apply for asylum.
But aid workers believe that hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of migrants, might have fled the area before the clearance operation began last Monday.
Demolition work is continuing and the local authorities say the clearance will be completed by Monday.
What was the Jungle?
Migrant camp Oct 2016
in early 2016
- The Jungle camp is near the port of Calais and close to the 31-mile (50km) Channel Tunnel
- Officially about 7,000 migrants live in the camp. The Help Refugees agency said the final population ahead of its demolition was 8,143
- The camp was halved in area earlier this year but the population continued to rise, and reports of violence have increased
- Many migrants attempt to hide themselves in cargo vehicles entering the Channel Tunnel
- The area has been hit by protests from both locals and truck operators
A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.
Calais ‘Jungle’: France urges UK to take more children