Britain, France seek solutions for Calais migrant camp kids

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 13, 2016 5:57 AM
Britain, France seek solutions for Calais migrant camp kids

CALAIS, France (AP) — A small group of underage migrants left the French city of Calais for Britain on Thursday, as both governments seek solutions for hundreds of unaccompanied children in the slum-like migrant camp known as the "jungle" before it is shut down in the coming weeks.

Concern about the children in Calais has mounted as France prepares to close the camp, a troubling symbol of Europe's migrant crisis.

Six children gathered in the Calais local administration headquarters Thursday morning before boarding a Eurostar train, accompanied by volunteers and French officials. Before boarding, they took a group selfie, while clutching plastic folders of documents.

Britain's Home Office says that small groups of children have been coming on a weekly basis for the last few months. Under pressure from France, the U.K. government said Monday it would begin admitting hundreds of children with relatives in Britain within days. However, questions remain about what will happen to those without family ties in the U.K.

Aid groups filed an emergency request this week with a court in Lille seeking to delay the closure of the camp, arguing that authorities aren't ready to relocate its thousands of residents. Thierry Kuhn of aid group Emmaus told The Associated Press on Thursday that a decision is expected within 48 hours.

The government is expected to relocate as many as 9,000 migrants to more than 160 centers around France in the next couple of weeks and then shut down the camp, but has not announced firm dates.

Thousands of migrants fleeing war and hardship from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have reached the Channel port town in the hope of making it to Britain.