The first group of children from the French “Jungle” migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp’s planned demolition. They were among around 70 young people who were taken to London from the camp in the northeastern French port town of Calais, the closest point to Britain on continental Europe.
The “Jungle” is home to around 5,700 people, according to official figures. Its demolition is set to begin on Monday. Last week Britain began taking in children from the “Jungle” who had a family connection in Britain — though some newspapers with photographs of the immigrants questioned whether they were actually minors at all.
They were brought in under the Dublin rules, which require the children to have family resident in Britain. Under a new legal amendment, a limited number of vulnerable child refugees can also enter Britain, even if they do not have family ties.
“We initially prioritised the transfer of children with family links to the UK, under the Dublin Regulation, and have now started the process of taking in those children without close family links,” said a spokesman for the Home Office interior ministry. “We are working… to make sure we bring all eligible children to the UK as soon as possible.” Bishop Jonathan Clark, a spokesman for Citizens UK, a giant agglomeration of largely faith-based groups that has worked to bring the children to Britain, welcomed the transfer.
“Of course this is just a very small proportion of the unaccompanied children out there and less than one percent of the total number of people in the Calais camp now, the vast majority of whom will be claiming asylum in France, as they should,” he said.
Meanwhile The Sunday Times newspaper reported that British members of the anti-capitalist protest group No Borders would attempt to block the demolition of the Jungle. At a meeting in London last Sunday, one activist told the broadsheet that “lots of us will be going down” and warned people not to join in unless they “understood the risks”.