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    Afghan children ride their bicycles in a makeshift migrants camp near Calais, France, Thursday Feb. 25, 2016

    Religious Leaders Plea for British PM to Take in Parentless Calais Migrant Kids

    © AP Photo / Jerome Delay
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    A number of senior British religious figures have reportedly urged the country's Prime Minister Theresa May to allow about 400 unaccompanied refugee children from the Calais "Jungle" camp to enter the UK.

    In an open letter to Theresa May, an array of senior British religious figures called on the UK Prime Minister to allow 397 refugee children into Britain before the notorious Calais "Jungle" migrant camp is dismantled, media reports said.

    The move came after French President Francois Hollande urged the UK government to assist in resolving the refugee crisis in Calais, also stressing the need to completely demolish the so-called Calais Jungle.

    The letter, organized by the charity Citizens UK, was signed by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, and several highly-placed British Muslim and Jewish leaders.

    Aerial view of a makeshift camp as containers (front) are put into place to house migrants living in what is known as the Jungle, a sprawling camp in Calais, France, August 14, 2016
    © REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol
    Aerial view of a makeshift camp as containers (front) are put into place to house migrants living in what is known as the "Jungle", a sprawling camp in Calais, France, August 14, 2016

    In the letter, they referred to the children who "have fled conflict and persecution, are now stuck in Northern France, deeply traumatized and at great risk, as well documented by the anti-slavery commissioner you yourself appointed while Home Secretary."

    They said that "we are now just days away from the start of the full demolition of the Calais camp" and that "the time to act is now."

    "None of us want the Calais 'Jungle' to exist. It is a stain on the conscience of both France and Britain," the letter inveighed.

    Referring to the imminent demolition of the Calais camp, the religious leaders underscored "the paramount need" to protect children, recalling that "during the last such demolition, the charity Help Refugees documented that 129 children went missing."

    Men pray  in the migrants and refugee camp in Calais, northern France. File photo
    © AFP 2019 / PHILIPPE HUGUEN
    Men pray in the migrants and refugee camp in Calais, northern France. File photo

    Earlier this year, French President Francois Hollande pledged that the Calais Jungle would be shut down by the end of 2016.

    The camp is notorious for its squalid conditions, the numerous attempts of its inhabitants to break into the Channel Tunnel in a desperate bid to reach the United Kingdom, and multiple police raids.

    In September, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced his plan to fully dismantle the makeshift camp in Calais, sending migrants to other camps spread out across France and helping those eligible to move to Britain to go there.

    Meanwhile, a report by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization, said that the demolition of the Calais camp will hit unaccompanied foreign minors and people with mental health problems especially hard.

    "There are 861 unaccompanied foreign minors among the refugees currently living in Calais, 627 of them in the 'Jungle' itself. Mostly from Sudan, Afghanistan, Eritrea or Ethiopia, the youngest is only 10 years old," according to the report.

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    Tags:
    letter, crisis, demolition, refugees, children, Calais camp, France
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