France has demanded that Britain take in nearly 1,500 “child migrants” staying in Calais, who councils say will cost taxpayers £133,000 per head.
The diplomatic row that has broken out over the fate of the alleged minors comes after a huge increase in the number of youths traveling to Calais in recent weeks, as news spread that the UK is taking child migrants in.
Staff at the Home Office have been screening the alleged children in order to assess their eligibility for resettlement in Britain either because they have family in the UK, or under the Dubs amendment.
Under the amendment, the government is now committed to offer sanctuary to “unaccompanied minors”. It was defeated in the Commons, as public opinion is fiercely against further migration, but pushed through by the House of Lords.
As the last remains of the “jungle” camp are cleared politicians in France say Britain should fulfill its “responsibilities” and give homes to the youths, who are currently being housed in shipping containers on the site of the former slum.
Pascal Brice, head of France’s Office for the Protection of Refugees, told Reuters: “We’ve done Britain’s work in tending to the adults. The least they can do is take care of the isolated minors… who have an interest in going to Britain.”
President of the Calais regional council, Xavier Bertrand, said: “We now need the British government to implement and accelerate the juvenile transfer process to the UK… It is a question of humanity and dignity.”
On Friday, after the demolition of the “jungle” France eventually agreed to transport over 100 “unaccompanied minors” who’d been left in the slum’s ruins to asylum centres across the country, following pressure from Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Furious, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said it’s the UK’s responsibility to take in youths wanting to enter the country.
The Home Office’s has come under widespread criticism for its handling of the relocation of the more than 300 alleged child migrants from Calais who have already arrived.
The arrival of the first few groups sparked anger as many of the so-called unaccompanied minors appeared to be well into adulthood. Among later batches entering Britain, several newcomers have covered their faces with towels and blankets to avoid being photographed by reporters, prompting accusations that the Home Office is involved in a “literal cover up”. The remainder all looked to be teenagers.
Revealing that the true cost of housing each “unaccompanied minor” will be £133,000 per year, councils have warned that Britons could face council tax hikes as a result.
David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration task group, said: ““How are the public going to feel if in a year’s time we are saying sorry we have got to close the library or close children’s centres because we have taken in refugee children and the Government is not willing to pay for it.
“It isn’t right that local taxpayers could see rising bills to pay for things which are entirely a consequence of national actions.”