LONDON, Oct 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United
Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday it welcomed plans
to demolish a migrant camp in Calais in northern France, but
raised fears lone children were at risk of trafficking if not
adequately supported during the transition.
The ramshackle camp has become a symbol of Europe's struggle
to respond to an influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty and
is home to more than 6,000 people dreaming of coming to Britain,
just 21 miles (33 km) across the English Channel.
President Francois Hollande said last month that France
would completely shut down "the Jungle" by the end of the year.
The plan is to relocate migrants in small groups around the
country, largely removing the option of forging a new life in
"This is welcome ... the Jungle site has been problematic
for a number of years, and UNHCR has long recommended it be
closed," the agency's spokesman Adrian Edwards said at a news
briefing in Geneva.
"Living conditions are appalling, with the most basic
shelter, inadequate hygiene facilities, very poor security and a
lack of basic services."
He said asylum seekers and migrants should be informed of
when the dismantling would begin, and said the French government
must organise appropriate accommodation for those leaving the
Edwards said it was also crucial to ensure lone children in
Calais were supervised during the demolition, as they are
vulnerable to being trafficked, abused or exploited.
"This is important so that children don't move on to other
destinations and risk becoming exploited by human traffickers or
end up living on the streets without any support," he said in a
statement, urging British authorities to reunite eligible
children with their relatives in the UK.
An estimated 1,200 unaccompanied children are currently
living in the Jungle, of which around 180 have been identified
as having family ties to Britain.
Britain's anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland has warned
that children were turning to smuggling gangs rather than
official routes to claim asylum or to join relatives in Britain
as he called for ministers to do more to help lone youngsters.
On Monday, Britain's home secretary (interior minister)
Amber Rudd said the UK would honour a commitment to take in
migrant children from the camp and urged Paris to help speed up
(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Ros Russell;
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