France & UK halt child transfers

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THE HOME Office announced yesterday that the transfer of refugee children from Calais to Britain has been halted while the destruction of the camp is underway, at the request of the French government.

Baroness Sheenan, speaking from the camp, said yesterday: ‘The agreement that has been made concerning the refugees has not been carried out. I was here all morning from 6.30am and I can tell you that I counted four buses, the fourth one left at 10.38.

‘The first bus I am sure was not full. The whole way this has been managed has been completely disorganised. We were told that 10,000 leaflets would be distributed in the camp yesterday, on Sunday, so that people would know what was happening – we found one.

‘There is complete chaos and confusion. There is no way that they can start the demolition of the camp tomorrow, there are too many people still in the camp.’ The UK government passed the Immigration Act last May with an amendment from Lord Dubs which obligated the government to bring lone refugee children from Europe to the UK.

On hearing that the French government has requested the Home Office suspend child transfers to the UK until further notice, Lord Dubs said: ‘This is the first I have heard about the suspension of the transfer of children. This is very bad news and I hope that the French and the British authorities can get together and resolve the problems so that the transfer can resume.’

He added that it would leave children despairing and in a terrible state of crisis. Lliana Bird, Help Refugees co-founder, said: ‘They have halted the registration of children, presumably at the bequest of the French authorities, we can not get any clear answers.

‘Forty-nine children who are aged 13 or under were told they had to register at the warehouse. After queueing for hours when they finally arrived they were told they had to head back to camp and go to the shipping containers. There are over 1,022 under-aged minors in the camp. It is very chaotic there is a lot of misinformation. This has all been left to the last minute, they have had since May to sort this out.’

The bulldozers were due to roll into the camp this morning, backed up by the notorious CRS riot police. The French authorities have vowed to forcibly remove all those who refuse to leave voluntarily. ‘I will not move an inch, I will not give up my dream of going to the UK,’ one of the refugees who refused to leave said yesterday.

Overnight on Sunday clashes broke out with tents set on fire and police firing volleys of tear gas to disperse protesting refugees.