British PM declines to take more Calais child refugees
London, Oct 31 (IANS) British Prime Minister Theresa May has declined to make any extra commitments on receiving child refugees from the Calais refugee camp, after French President Francois Hollande rang her to ask that Britain consider its “moral duty”.
Downing Street said Britain has already taken a “considerable number of unaccompanied minors”, and several hundred more children and young people would be arriving in the coming weeks, the Guardian reported on Sunday.
The government has taken about 274 child refugees this month, mostly those with family ties to Britain under the Dublin regulation — an European Union (EU) law that designates member state responsibility for examining an asylum application.
Marking an escalation of tensions between the two nations over the “Jungle” camp, the French President made clear in a telephone call to May his displeasure with Britain’s efforts to help those affected.
Hollande went public with details of the call on Saturday as he sought to hold off political pressure from his rivals over his handling of the migrant crisis, the Telegraph reported.
He spoke to May to ensure that British officials would “accompany these minors to these centres and would play their part in subsequently welcoming them to the United Kingdom”.
“Their transfer to Britain is urgent,” he added. “We ask you to take your responsibilities and assume your moral duty by immediately organising their arrival.”
It is understood the phone call between Hollande and May centred on practical steps required to process the children’s claims after they have been relocated to specialist reception centres, the Guardian reported.
But sources said that May did not make any new commitments to France that the UK would take in more child refugees, saying it was already taking action in accordance with the Dublin regulation and Dubs amendment.