Over a week after work began to pull apart the Calais refugee camp known as the “Jungle”, the last unaccompanied children have been bused out of the area.
Over 1,500 children had been living alone in converted shipping containers whilst they waited to be taken to alternative accommodation across France.
French President Francois Hollande rang his British counterpart Theresa May regarding the children and asked that the UK consider its “moral duty” but the MP for Maidenhead declined to make any extra commitments.
Of course, there is no lack of irony in Hollande calling upon the moral duty of any nation state when you consider the way France itself has treated the migrants and refugees living in the “Jungle”.
Nevertheless, Downing Street said the UK had already taken in a “considerable number of unaccompanied minors” and that several hundred more children and young people would be arriving in the near future.
Around 274 children came to the UK last month, most of those had family already living here, but that was after taking in less than twenty of the more than 88,000 unaccompanied child refugees estimated to be in Europe, despite the Dubs amendment being included in the Immigration Act, which committed the government to bring in a number of lone child migrants “as soon as possible”.
None of this should be surprising, however, especially when you consider that members of the current government have joined in with tabloid speculation by questioning the age of the child refugees being brought to the UK and calling for them to be tested using dental X-rays.
The government subsequently denied it was looking to do so and countered that other testing would be used to make sure the children were indeed children.
Hardly a shock then that the UN has blamed several British political figures, including Farage and Cameron, as well as segments of the press for fuelling the rise in hate crimes post-Brexit.
Also, what does the decision to demolish the “Jungle” mean for May’s plans to build a £2m wall around the area, announced back in September?
Whilst a lot of planning undoubtedly went into the decision to destroy the “Jungle” migrant camp and move its inhabitants to better accommodation in other parts of the country, there were inevitably problems, and a lack of cross border consensus between the UK and France seems to be the biggest.
As previously mentioned, children were the last to taken out of the camp, forced to live in makeshift accommodation with little or no adult supervision, leading to fights between differing groups.
And whilst most of them have now been given places to sleep, at least in the short term, many of the adult migrants and refugees have simply begun camping elsewhere, most notably Paris where there have been fights in the streets after the city’s migrant and refugee population grew by around a third over the last week.
There are now rumours that those in Paris will be forcibly removed like their counterparts in Calais, and for some that would mean the second such incident in a matter of weeks.
Hollande may have praised the operation, stating that France would “no longer tolerate” migrant camps, calling them “unbecoming of what a French welcome should be”, but after years of being left in conditions described as comparable to “dying slowly”, there is much mistrust amongst the migrant and refugee population.
Until the governments of France and the UK can come to some sort of agreement over what needs to be done in regards to the former inhabitants of the “Jungle”, expect the recent scenes in Calais and Paris to continue.
In the short term little can be done to stem the flow of people trying to enter Europe to flee from danger or to try and better their lives, but steps can be put in place to make sure that another “Jungle” does not appear and part of that would entail the UK bringing in more refugees, rather than trying to build a wall around them.