Last week on the 26th October, the French authorities started to dismantle the camp known as the ‘Jungle’. I believe this was the right thing to do as it should never have occurred in the first place. The reasons for the Jungle are complex but are partly down weak internal boarders across the EU and French law enforcement turning a blind eye for too long.
With regards to the children in the Jungle in Calais. UK authorities have been working with the French and charities in the camp to establish if any of the children have family connections or relatives in the UK. If they do then they will be allowed to come into the UK. Once in they will either be taken to their relatives or if a family placement is found to be unsuitable, the child will be placed into Local Authority care through the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Transfer scheme.
Some people in the media and elsewhere have commentated about the age of those who are coming into the UK and have asked for dental checks. Where credible and clear documentary evidence of age is not available, criteria including physical appearance and demeanour are used as part of the interview process to assess age. We do not use dental x-rays to confirm the ages of those seeking asylum in the UK as this process has been described as inaccurate by The British Dental Association.
The remaining people in Calais will be offered places around France so they can be properly processed by the French asylum and immigration system. It is important to separate those who are fleeing violence as they are asylum seekers, and those who are economic migrants who do not have the right to be in France. The Government is committed to doing our fair share to accept responsibility for those with links to the UK, as expressed in the Dublin regulation. If we take every refugee directly from Europe we encourage more migrants to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean that cost over 3,600 people their lives last year.
It should be noted, the UK is also taking thousands of the most disadvantaged people in the refugee camps around the Middle East, who have had to flee their homes due to the Syrian Civil war. We are also the second highest contributor to aid for the area, only the United States donates more money. Since 2012, we have spent over £2.3 billion on aid to help the Syrians and surrounding nations cope with the humanitarian disaster caused by President Assad’s forces, ISIS and Russia.