Several child migrants posed for selfies today as they prepared to say ‘au revoir’ to France and board Eurostar trains bringing them to Britain.
A small group of under-age migrants left the Calais for Britain as the British and French governments continue to negotiate about should happen to up to 1,000 unaccompanied children who are living in the slum-like camp known as ‘The Jungle’, which is due to close down within weeks.
Six children gathered in Calais this morning before boarding a Eurostar train, accompanied by volunteers and French officials.
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One Syrian and five Afghan boys – all of whom have family in Britain – wait at the customs checkpoint at Calais train station before boarding a train to London
Before boarding, they took a group selfie, while clutching plastic folders of documents.
Under pressure from France, the British government said on Monday it would begin admitting hundreds of children who have relatives in Britain and are legally entitled to come to the UK.
But questions remain about what will happen to those who do not have family in Britain.
These boys, in their teens, are on their way to join relatives in Britain. Sometimes it can be extremely difficult to ascertain the exact ages of child migrants
Earlier this year Lord Dubs, a Labour peer who came to Britain on the Kindertransport programme for Jewish children fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s, forced through a measure in Parliament which forced then prime minister David Cameron to agree to accept unaccompanied children, even if they did not have the formal right to settle in Britain.
Many, but not all, of the unaccompanied children in The Jungle are from Syria.
Aid groups filed an emergency request this week with a court in Lille seeking to delay the closure of the camp, arguing that the French authorities are not prepared to relocate its thousands of residents.
The young migrants preparing to board their train today, accompanied by a French official
Thierry Kuhn of aid group Emmaus said today a decision is expected within 48 hours.
The French government is expected to relocate as many as 9,000 migrants to more than 160 centres around France in the next couple of weeks and then shut down the camp.
Thousands of migrants, many of them fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have reached Calais in the hope of making it to Britain.
The five Afghans and one Syrian wave goodbye to friends before boarding the train
Migrants play football in The Jungle, which is due to be demolished within weeks
Earlier this week Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve he must ensure the security of hundreds of youngsters before The Jungle was bulldozed.
Miss Rudd also emphasised Britain’s ‘moral duty’ to bring dozens of unaccompanied youngsters to the UK.
But she said before the government could bring lone children with family ties to Britain, French officials had to provide a list of names.
Several local councils in Britain have offered to accept unaccompanied children who have no relatives in the UK and there is a campaign under way to find more foster families.