Nearly 1 300 minors at Calais 'Jungle' - charity

2016-10-13 07:53
A tent painted with the British flag at the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. (Philippe Huguen, AFP)

A tent painted with the British flag at the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. (Philippe Huguen, AFP)

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Paris - Nearly 1 300 minors are among thousands of migrants living in squalid conditions at the "Jungle" migrant camp soon to be demolished in northern France, a charity said on Wednesday.

The figure is a steep jump from the 861 minors the group France Terre d'Asile counted at the sprawling site in late August, its director Pierre Henry noted.

In a census on Monday and Tuesday, the charity counted 1 290 minors of whom nearly 500 had family in Britain, Henry said, adding that "95% of them say they want to go to Britain".

The makeshift settlement has become a focal point in France of Europe's migrant crisis, the subject of heated debate among politicians and a constant source of tension with Britain.

France said on Monday that Britain had a "moral duty" to let migrant children still in the Jungle join their relatives across the Channel.

Earlier on Wednesday, a top French court approved the authorities' plans to shut down unlicensed cafés and stalls in the Jungle.

Overturning a lower court decision in favour of the shop owners, the Council of State ruled their premises were "unhygienic" and a "serious fire hazard".

In its ruling it backed the authorities' claim that the shops and cafés were being used for smuggling activities that had "caused tension and violence".

The decision comes as the state prepares to dismantle the camp, whose overall population was estimated on Tuesday by local authorities at under 5 700, down from 6 900 in August.

Charities have said the number is closer to 10 000.

After the camp is closed, asylum-seekers are to be moved to shelters around the country.

Many shops and cafés in the camp had already closed.

In August, a court in the city of Lille ruled they should be allowed to remain open, saying they fulfilled an important social role for the migrants.

Calais is a magnet for migrants trying to reach Britain by stowing away on trucks heading across the Channel from France.

Read more on:    uk  |  france  |  migrants

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