French President François Hollande has personally asked British Prime Minister Theresa May to take in 1,500 child refugees. Hollande called May to discuss the fate of the children, displaced after the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais was torn down last week. Following criticism of his handling of the refugee crisis, the president has taken a tougher approach to the camps in France, ordering police to clear a camp that sprang up in the north of Paris in the past few days.
Speaking at a reception center for displaced refugees on Saturday, Hollande told the crowd that the onus was on Britain to care for the displaced minors, and then he addressed the country generally: “We ask you to take your responsibilities and assume your moral duty by immediately organizing their arrival.”
Mr Hollande’s entreaties seem to have fallen on deaf ears, however, as the Telegraph reported May has rejected the suggestion. She is thought to be in favor of continuing to welcome children in line with the Dublin Regulation — whereby minors are accepted if they have family living in the U.K.
“We now have a commitment to bring all of the remaining children under the Dubs and Dublin agreement to the U.K. within weeks and it’s essential this remains an urgent priority,” Sol Oyuela, UNICEF U.K.’s director of Public Affairs, told VICE News. “After the uncertainty of the camp’s demolition, it is important we show these children that the rules can work for them. The U.K.’s response to the crisis must go beyond Calais. We should be proud of the steps that have been taken, but this can’t be a one-off response.”
Current estimates show that the U.K. has taken in 300 children from the Calais camp in recent weeks. The country’s reception of Calais minors was shrouded in controversy when several media outlets reported that some of the minors were lying about their age in order to enter the country.
Meanwhile, French police started clearing a makeshift camp in Paris on Monday. The camp, known as Stalingrad due to its proximity to the Stalingrad subway station, has seen its numbers grow to around 2,000 since the closure of the Calais center. Police arrived early in the morning and instructed those sleeping in tents to dismantle them. Those who have applied for asylum will be moved to reception centers for processing. The French president insisted that those who have not will be deported.