France to begin moving migrant minors from Calais on Wednesday

A general view shows the area with containers used as temporary housing for migrants who are minors in the "Jungle" during the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France on October 27. PHOTO: REUTERS

CALAIS (REUTERS) - French authorities will begin transferring on Wednesday about 1,500 unaccompanied migrant minors housed temporarily in converted shipping containers in Calais to reception centres across the country, officials said on Tuesday.

Demolition teams finished tearing down unoccupied shacks and tents in the northern seaside town on Monday after last week's evacuation of thousands of migrants from the Jungle camp, where more than 6,000 people were living, most of them in the hope of making it across the Channel to Britain.

Tensions between London and Paris have mounted in recent days after President Francois Hollande urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to accept Britain's share of responsibility for the minors.

Britain is obliged under EU rules to take in minors with verified family ties. "The minors will be taken by bus to reception centres for minors across France throughout the day," Stephane Duval, who heads a state-run shelter built with shipping containers within the camp, told Reuters.

"There will be no departures to Britain for now. Their applications will be studied at a later stage."

A second official, who declined to be identified, said the evacuation would take several days. "It's about 1,500 minors who will go to reception centres where they will meet personnel from the (British) Home Office (Interior Ministry)," the official said.

Hollande said on Monday that minors who do not leave for Britain will be taken care of by the French state, adding that in a few days there would be no more foreign minors in Calais.

The Calais camp came to symbolise Europe's fraught efforts to cope with a record influx of migrants fleeing strife in countries from Afghanistan to Sudan.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.