Lone children with UK ties 'should be taken out of Jungle camp before it shuts'


Unaccompanied children with family in the UK should be removed from the Jungle migrant camp in Calais before it is closed, a group of Tory MPs have demanded.

Former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan is among those urging Home Secretary Amber Rudd to do more to save children from people smugglers and exploitation.

In a joint letter organised by Unicef and published in the Daily Telegraph, the MPs state: "We must ensure that it is the authorities and the law that help these children, and not the criminals who would put them in the back of trucks or leave them to take their own chances.

"We can do more to help these children and in doing so we will defeat the traffickers. Above all, as Conservatives, we must champion the role of the family in resolving this refugee crisis.

"Family reunion is the best tool we have for offering a legal and safe way to get unaccompanied children back into the arms of their family and out of the hands of the traffickers.

"Recently, a 14-year-old boy died in Calais when he fell off a truck while trying to reach the UK. He had a legal right to be with his brother, but having waited for months in wretched conditions for the process to work, he took fate into his own hands with devastating consequences. He had travelled thousands of miles to find his family and his journey ended in tragedy 20 miles from our border.

"With the French authorities planning to dismantle the camp, life is only likely to get harder for these vulnerable children. It is critical that we in the UK ensure that unaccompanied children with a legal right to be here are kept safe while they wait.

"This means working with France to ensure children are moved out of the camp before the bulldozers arrive, and into a safe place where they have access to the legal support and social care they need."

French President Francois Hollande has insisted he will demolish the Jungle camp and move residents to reception centres in other parts of the country.

Unicef has urged the Government to bring more urgency to the issue of helping vulnerable migrant children in Calais with family ties to the UK.

There are up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors in the camp, according to estimates.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The dismantling of the camp in Calais is a matter for the French government.

"The UK Government has made crystal clear its commitment to resettle vulnerable children under the Immigration Act and ensure those with links to the UK are brought here using the Dublin Regulation.

"We will also continue to support the French government as it provides alternative accommodation to migrants in the camps and returns those not in need of protection to their home countries.

"We continue to work with the French government and partner organisations to speed up mechanisms to identify, assess and transfer unaccompanied refugee children to the UK, where this is in their best interests."