By Emily Newsome
THE FIRST busload of refugee children from the Calais “jungle” camp was said to be on its way to Britain yesterday (Tuesday).
French authorities have started demolishing the camp as the mass eviction continues – as large numbers of refugees are beginning to leave voluntarily, according to Sky News.
About 178 unaccompanied children were identified as eligible for British asylum by the British Red Cross, as they already have relatives in the UK – but charity workers have accused the British government of not treating the crisis with proper urgency.
Although officials cannot disclose whether any refugees will be coming to Yorkshire, Refugee Council policy manager Judith Dennis said: “This announcement is life changing, if not lifesaving, for the children coming to Britain to be reunited with their families.
“However, it is important that the government shows the same urgency in reuniting all families who have been torn apart while seeking safety and now find themselves spread across Europe. Families should not have to take life threatening journeys in order to be together.
“Governments across Europe, including the UK, have put border control above family unity for far too long. It’s vital that all governments across Europe now work together to ensure that effective systems are in place so that families can be reunited safely and swiftly.”
Due to the refugee children arriving unaccompanied, many say it is even more important that the government acts quickly and with even more support.
Amber Brady, 23, from Carlton Street, Keighley, who worked voluntarily last summer for the Red Cross, said: “Whilst I was volunteering for the Red Cross I saw the suffering that these people had gone through on their journeys.
“The Calais Jungle is not a good place for these children to be, and the government should be doing all they can to get these children out of there as soon as possible – which I don’t feel is happening.
“Supporting adult refugees is hard enough, unaccompanied children will require much more empathy and attendance even if they are with family members.”
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, believes the number of youngsters heading to Britain could be up to 300.
And home secretary Amber Rudd told British MPs that France had already agreed to authorise a list from Citizens UK, of 387 children with a legal right to enter Britain.
According to the Guardian, Mrs Rudd said: “Once we have that official list we will move quickly within days and remove very quickly those children.”
As of yesterday, 400 unaccompanied refugee children remained at the camp in sheltered huts, while a further 600 have been dispersed to centres across France.
However, according to Press Association, one in four local authorities – including Theresa May’s local council – is not accepting unaccompanied refugee children from the Calais Jungle.