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French action urged over Calais children

French action urged over Calais children
Children at the Calais migrant camp Image copyright AFP Image caption Unaccompanied children are said to be exposed to dangers in the camp

England's Children's Commissioner has asked the French government to help lone children in Calais's refugee camp to be reunited with relatives in UK.

Anne Longfield has written to French authorities to ask them to speed up the asylum claims of 150 children there who may be eligible to travel to the UK.

She also claims the French are not properly protecting lone children at the camp, saying 129 have gone missing.

The children, some as young as 10, have fled fighting in countries like Syria.

In her letter, Ms Longfield expresses concern about children who are thought to have disappeared since the French authorities dismantled parts of the camp, known as the Jungle, earlier this year.

"The charities working with them have tried hard to trace them and the authorities must do likewise," she said.

The camp is an incredibly dangerous place for an unaccompanied childAnne Longfield, children's commissioner for England

Charity workers are also said to have identified the children who are potentially eligible to move to the UK because they have parents or siblings there.

Ms Longfield's call follows a visit to the camp to meet children living there alone while waiting for their cases to be reviewed.

She said: "I have asked the French authorities to urgently determine which of the children in the Calais refugee camp are eligible to come to the UK, to ensure their safety and to process their applications immediately.

"It is unacceptable that at the moment some are waiting up to nine months before they learn whether or not they can come. The camp is an incredibly dangerous place for an unaccompanied child."

She said that while in the camp, children were exposed to trafficking, violence, abuse and illness.

"We expect authorities in the UK to make sure vulnerable children in England are looked after and we expect nothing less of the French government."

The French government is yet to comment on the letter or its contents.

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