French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday he had spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May about Britain taking its share of responsibility for minors who were living in the “Jungle” migrant camp of Calais. There was tension this week between the two countries over how to take care of those young migrants after bulldozers flattened the camp that had been home to about 6,000 refugees and migrants hoping to cross the Channel to Britain.
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Hollande said there were 1,500 unaccompanied minors, who would be transferred to reception centres.
“I talked yesterday 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 (of responsibility) to welcome them in Britain.”
Late on Thursday, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was quoted by a spokesman as telling France it must guarantee the protection of these youngsters. The issue is sensitive in both countries and the head of France’s Ofpra refugee agency, Pascal Brice, responded bluntly on Friday: “We’ve done Britain’s work in tending to the adults.”
“The least they can do is take care of the isolated minors who are now at the CAP (temporary lodgings) and who have an interest in going to Britain,” he told Reuters.
European Union rules say Britain must take in unaccompanied children who have family ties there. An amendment to those rules adopted in Britain this year states that such minors whose best interests are served by doing so should also be admitted. Britain has so far accepted 274 children from among this group, France said on Thursday.