UK NGOs, MPs press France on ‘Jungle’ camp demolition


British NGOs, charities and lawmakers have urged French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to ensure the safety of children in the “Jungle” Calais migrant camp during its demolition on Monday.

In a letter dated Friday, the signatories said they had “very serious worries concerning the security and well-being of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable adults”.

Cazeneuve has pledged that all remaining migrants at the site, currently occupied by around 5,700 people according to official figures, would be given “dignified” shelter after the camp is cleared.

“We fear that the resources currently being deployed and the proposed responses are insufficient to ensure the effective protection of the most vulnerable, notably unaccompanied children,” the letter said.

The signatories, which included Save the Children, the Refugee Council, Safe Passage UK-Citizens UK and the International Rescue Committee UK, said tensions had risen in the camp since its demolition was announced, due to a lack of clear information from the authorities about the future of its inhabitants.

They said a poorly-organised clearance would put already fragile people into an even more precarious situation.

The letter asked for all unaccompanied minors to be found shelter before the demolition begins, for a designated “safe zone” in the camp during the dismantlement and, that everyone eligible to join family in Britain be identified.

They also called for independent rights observers and fire extinguishers to be present during the demolition.

The signatories included 60 of the 650 MPs, including Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and main opposition Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell.

It was also signed by two bishops and several members of parliament’s upper House of Lords, including Paddy Ashdown, the former international high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

© 2016 AFP

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