French minister: Britain must fulfil duty to Calais migrant children
Bernard Cazeneuve said French government has now decided to dismantle the Calais camp for good
Britain must fulfil its duties towards unaccompanied migrant children in the Calais “Jungle” camp, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in an article published Tuesday, just a day after more than a dozen teenagers were transferred to the UK.
“(The) French government has now decided to dismantle the Calais camp for good,” Cazeneuve said in an opinion piece for British newspaper The Guardian, adding that neither London nor Paris wants “to leave people with the right to refugee status in the cold and the mud -- women and children least of all”.
The makeshift settlement in Calais has become a focal point in France of Europe’s migrant crisis, the subject of heated debate among politicians and a constant source of tension with Britain, which is where many of the migrants want to go. The minister said that “because they share a moral responsibility towards them, the governments of France and the UK are determined to succeed with this operation together”.
“The British government has pledged to help solve this crisis by taking in some unaccompanied minors, the vast majority of whom have expressed the wish to go to the UK,” he added. “The UK government now needs to intensify this effort, so that every unaccompanied minor can benefit from fair, lasting protection. In the longer term, neither the UK nor France can abdicate our responsibilities regarding the migration crisis across our continent.”
The interior minister warned the “humanitarian operation must be supported by long-term measures aimed at making the border impenetrable at Calais and other Channel ports”. He said that “thanks to the cooperation between our police services, 33 illegal immigration networks smuggling people into the UK have already been dismantled in France since the beginning of this year”.
His comments came as 14 unaccompanied teenagers who had been living in the Calais “Jungle” were reunited with relatives after being transferred to Britain on Monday, ahead of the demolition of the French migrant camp. The children, who Britain said were aged between 14 and 17 and from countries including Syria and Sudan, are due to be followed by dozens more in the coming days.
They are entitled to move to Britain under EU law due to family ties with those already in the UK. But campaigners and faith leaders warned there were many more left behind who also deserved the country’s help.