Britain on Thursday called on the French government to look after children stranded in Calais following the demolition of the Jungle migrant camp in northern France.
British interior minister Amber Rudd spoke to French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve “to stress the need for children who remain in Calais to be properly protected”, according to a Home Office statement.
“Any child either not eligible or not in the secure area of the camp should be cared for and safeguarded by the French authorities,” she told Cazeneuve.
“We understand specialist facilities have been made available elsewhere in France to ensure this happens.”
Dozens of migrants on Thursday remained stuck in the Jungle, some of them children, as diggers began tearing down the last remaining shelters in the burned-out camp.
France's interior ministry said Wednesday that nearly 5,600 migrants had been taken into shelters around the country or accepted into Britain — out of the 6,400 estimated by authorities to have been living in the camp up until this week.
Rudd promised to work with the French authorities to make sure all children eligible to come to Britain be transferred “as quickly as possible”.
But charities lambasted both governments for failing to ensure the minors were looked after with no French of British officials on the scene on Thursday night.
Save the Children spokeswoman Dorothy Sang said: “Yet again these children have been put in a dangerous position. Once again the authorities have walked away and left charities to look after them.”
Michael Garcia Bochenek from Human Rights Watch told The Guardian newspaper: “Children are entitled to care and protection, to food shelter and clothing. In this case the French and British government have known for days that there were large numbers of unaccompanied children in the camp, and they have stepped in with too little and too late.”