Calais migrant camp kids major area of conflict between UK, France
by Daily Sabah with Wires
IstanbulOct 17, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Wires
Oct 17, 2016 12:00 am
A first group of unaccompanied migrant children left the Calais "Jungle" camp for Britain on Saturday, days after a French minister said the UK had a "moral duty" to take them in.
The children have been living in squalid conditions in the Calais encampment where charities estimate up to 10,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia have settled in the hope of reaching Britain. The camp faces demolition. The French government has announced plans to shut down the camp that has become a demoralizing symbol of Europe's migrant crisis by the end of the year. That means 6,000 to 10,000 migrants will need to be relocated, including up to 1,300 minors, according to different estimates from charities operating in the camp.
The departure comes after French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Monday said he was asking "Britain to assume its moral duty" by accepting unaccompanied children with family in the UK. The British Red Cross has said 178 unaccompanied children in the camp have already been identified as having the right to claim asylum in Britain due to their family links.
The "Jungle" has become a symbol of the Europe's biggest migrant crisis since the World War II and a major source of Anglo-French tensions, leading President Francois Hollande to demand that the site be demolished before the end of 2016.
There has been a growing tension between France and Britain. While Britain wants to retain the border deal, France wants border controls to take place in the U.K., instead of carrying out immigration checks in Calais.
According to the historic border agreement, dubbed Le Touquet Treaty signed in 2003, British security controls have been stationed at the French border and immigration checks are carried out in French ferry terminals in the northern French port city of Calais. The agreement also allows French border officials to check the documents of migrants in Dover, across the English Channel.
An 18-hectare wasteland in the French port city was turned into a camp for as many as 2,500 asylum seekers in April 2015. Hundreds of migrants were relocated by French authorities where there is no access to basic services. Most migrants coming from the eastern African countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan and war-torn Syria intend to cross the English Channel and seek asylum in the U.K. As only a small number of refugees are eligible to enter European countries, the ones that can find shelter suffer from worsening humanitarian conditions in refugee camps.