Children to be moved from Calais Jungle camp

French authorities are this morning moving over a thousand teenage migrants who remain in limbo on the site of the so-called ”Jungle” in Calais.

The migrants, who are estimated to number about 1,500, all claim to be under 18.

They remain in and around a container area next to the Jungle which has now been demolished.

Nearly 6,000 migrants moved out of the camp voluntarily last week when authorities offered them a registration process.

The adults and children accompanied by adults were taken on buses to official asylum centres across France.

However, those who claimed to be under 18 and unaccompanied were registered and placed in the container zone next to the Jungle from where their future was to be assessed.

From visual observations by Sky News at the container zone last week, many were evidently minors.

French policemen wearing boots protected with plastic walk through the camp
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Their fate was the subject of a diplomatic dispute between the UK and France at the weekend after French president Francois Hollande told Prime Minister Theresa May in a phone call that it was the UK’s “moral duty” to take its “fair share” of the 1,500 still in Calais.

The UK had, in the summer, pledged to take in all children with family links to Britain, under the Dublin protocol, and a proportion of those who do not have family links, under the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration act.

However, following Mr Hollande’s remarks, Mrs May made no specific commitments to the 1,500 currently in Calais.

But on Tuesday, leaflets were distributed to the migrants in nine different languages explaining that they would be transferred to special juvenile centres across France on Wednesday in a fleet of buses.

Great Torrington
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According to the leaflet, British officials will accompany the buses. Assessments of who may be eligible to come to the UK will be made at the centres rather than in Calais.

The leaflet, seen by Sky News, read: “Underage children from the temporary accommodation centre will be leaving by bus for juvenile centres all over France, where their applications to be transferred to the UK will be dealt with by the British authorities.

“No further applications for transfer to the UK will be dealt with in Calais … British authorities will be accompanying you on your journey.”

The British authorities have not independently confirmed this process.

Sky News has maintained contact with a number of minors who remain in Calais, and who should be transferred today, including 15 year old Debesay Teklmahymanot from Eritrea.

We first met the teenager in Sicily in August. He had just arrived on the Italian island having been rescued along with hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean.

Fifteen-year-old Debesay Teklmahymanot
Image Caption:
Fifteen-year-old Debesay Teklmahymanot

Having traveled alone without parents across the Sahara from Eritrea, he and his friends say they faced exploitation at the hands of traffickers and sexual molestation by Italian predators.

Debesay said last night that he was feeling “good” ahead of the transfer to a juvenile centre. However, it is not clear precisely what the next step is for him or any of the other minors. 

Last night there were clashes between a number of the migrants and riot police who arrived at the Jungle site in riot vans.

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