The British government is set to bring hundreds of child migrants from the Calais Jungle migrant camp to the UK over the next few weeks, as the French authorities prepare to demolish the camp, the Home Secretary has confirmed.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the first 100 should arrive soon.
“The French have said that they want to clear the Calais camp, which I welcome, and I have urged them to take the children out first,” she said.
“I have offered assistance, people and money, to help clear the children out of the camps before the clearing starts.”
Ms. Rudd is due to meet with France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in London to discuss the plans to dismantle the camp, with a spokesman for the minister indicating that the French government would like the matter of child migrants settled before any action is taken.
According to The Guardian, the spokesman claimed that British bureaucracy is holding up the transfer of the 400 or so children thought to have links to the UK, saying: “At present, the time it is taking for the British authorities to process these children is far too long. It needs to be cut to a matter of days. We need an agreement on this very urgently.”
But Ms. Rudd threw the allegation back at the French, insisting that the British government was “absolutely pushing the French” to get on with the paperwork to identify youngsters with relatives in the UK “so that we can have those children and bring them safely to the UK”.
She added: “We have about 100 in train who we hope to bring over in the next few weeks but on top of that I’ve made it clear that we will take children from the Dubs agreement as well, where we can demonstrate they are better off in the UK than in France.”
Giving an indication of how many children she foresaw coming to the UK, Ms. Rudd said that official estimates of the number of unaccompanied children ranged from 600 to 900.
“If we ended up taking half of that lesser number that would be a really good result,” she said, adding that £100 million had been handed to France in the last few years to help with the camp.
In particular, Ms. Rudd said the British government was interested in financing “welcome camps” for children “so we can make sure they go somewhere safe”.