Minors left in Calais after Jungle clearance have been taken to processing centres


The first set of unaccompanied minors left in Calais more than a week after the operation to clear the Jungle camp began have been taken to processing centres around France.

Three buses organised by the French authorities carried a group of unaccompanied boys, mainly teenagers, out of the camp on Wednesday morning.

More than five and a half thousand migrants and refugees were processed during the operation to clear the camp last week, but charities on the ground reported hundreds of children being left behind and forced to sleep rough as flames tore through the settlement.

Teenage refugees
(Thibault Camus/AP/PA)

President Francois Hollande said this week that the children would be transferred within days to "dedicated centres" where British officials can explore whether they have the right to UK asylum.

Hollande said the others would be put in the care of French child welfare services.

Children still in the camp were given a letter from the local prefecture in French and English telling them no further applications for transfer to the UK would be dealt with in Calais.

The Jungle
(Thibault Camus/AP/PA)

Many unaccompanied minors last week expressed concern they would not be able to register after hundreds were reportedly turned away from the temporary centre set up on the fringe of the camp.

As French authorities declared the operation over last week, charities including Unicef and Save the Children said it was "unacceptable" that children had been left with nowhere to go while the camp was being demolished.

The letter reassured in bold: "There will be a place reserved for everyone".

The Jungle
(Chris Radburn/PA)

Before midday French time, children had boarded at least eight buses in a process that was "calm and organised", the charity Help Refugees said.

The charity said: "Many will find difficult to process the fact that the children were not provided with protection before the eviction of the camp to prevent them from going unaccounted for and protect them from the added external risks that an eviction inevitably brings.

"However, we are encouraged to see that at least today the move is being carried out in a humane way.

"It represents yet another displacement in the lives of this group of vulnerable people, many of whom have already experienced significant trauma."

The charity said it had been informed that the children, accompanied by British authorities, are being bussed to 60 accommodation centres across France.