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Minors left stranded at Calais camp as demolition moves forward

Dozens of migrants, including many children, have remained at the makeshift "Jungle" migrant camp, a day after authorities declared it empty. Bulldozers also began tearing down the last remaining camp shelters.

Children and adult migrants slept in the cold and wandered around what remained of the "Jungle" camp near Calais, France, on Thursday as demolition crews continued to tear down shelters.

An unknown number of migrants were left behind or returned to the camp after authorities declared a three-day evacuation of the camp was over. Some still held onto their dream of reaching Great Britain, while others missed the Wednesday cutoff for registration and relocation at refugee centers in France.

"I want to go to England. It is better there. They appreciate the humanity of the people," Rifat Abdelatif, a 29-year-old from Sudan told German news agency dpa.

"The police are not the enemy," he added. "But they want to stop our dream."

Calais Regional Prefect Fabienne Buccio said those left in the camp had come from "Germany, Paris and elsewhere" and repeated that registrations for relocation in France had closed.

Criticizing the situation, the Save the Children charity said "the situation for children in Calais after the demolition is the worst it's ever been" and that some children "had nowhere to go."

"Lots of children are sleeping outside. We had a group of Eritrean boys, 13 and 14 years old, last night, who slept outside," said Dorothy Sang, a worker with the Save the Children. "Other children fled. They lost faith in the system."

Relocation in France and UK

Some 1,500 children in the camp are being temporarily housed in shipping containers, which are now full.

The France Terre d'Asile charity, which is responsible for caring for the migrant minors, told French news agency AFP that 40 children were due to be transferred to Britain on Thursday, adding to more than 200 that London has taken since mid-October.

Another 40 have been sent to a temporary children's shelter in eastern France with more set to be bussed to other centers in the south and west on Thursday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve previously said that all minors "with proven family links in Britain" would eventually be moved to the UK.

Final demolition

Bulldozers on Thursday moved into the camp, clearing mounds of charred debris and tearing down tents and makeshift shelters in the once-overcrowded shanty town.

Nearly 5,600 migrants and refugees were brought to shelters around France or were accepted in Britain, the French Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Authorities estimated some 6,400 had been living in the camp up until this week, while aid organizations put the number closer to 8,000.

Most of the migrants hoping to reach Britain had fled conflict, poverty or persecution in countries such as Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan.

 

rs/sms    (AP, AFP)