UK councillors head for talks in France on tackling lone migrant children issue


British authorities will travel to Calais today for talks with their French counterparts on how best to tackle the issue of lone migrant children.

Councillors from the Local Government Association (LGA) are heading to the refugee camp known as the Jungle, where scores of unaccompanied children are living.

More than 4,000 lone minors are claiming asylum in the UK, with councils tasked with ensuring they are resettled and cared for.

The LGA's David Simmonds said he hoped councils could work with French authorities to assess children and their needs before they are brought into the UK.

Local authorities are responsible for costs including schooling, foster care, university fees and housing, and receive funding at a fixed rate from central government.

Concerns have been raised about the plight of unaccompanied minors in recent months, with official estimates suggesting that up to 10,000 under-18s are missing in Europe.

After their visit to the city's sprawling migrant camp, the LGA councillors will meet with mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart in a bid to join up efforts to handle the refugee crisis.

It is hoped that expertise could be shared between the countries on how to keep lone young people safe and ensure they receive the appropriate care, the LGA said.

The meeting follows of months of tensions about the state of refugee care after the Brexit vote.

Calls were made by French officials in June for border checks on the British side of the English Channel, paving the way for the refugees to make their way to English shores.