Migrants "including many minors" sleep in the charred remains of the 'Jungle' camp in Calais

Charity calls on Irish government to "urgently act" to protect children in Calais

Migrants "including many minors" sleep in the charred remains of the 'Jungle' camp in Calais

View of the makeshift migrant camp known as "The Jungle" after fires were started, near Calais, northern France | Image: Thibault Camus AP/Press Association Images

Several hundred people, including many children, spent the night sleeping in or near the charred wreck of the "Jungle" migrant camp, despite French authorities declaring it 'empty'.

Most spent the night on the road leading to a reception centre, which has now been closed to migrants still at the camp.

Many are now waiting on the edge of the camp with information changing by the hour.

With part of the camp burnt and other parts now being bulldozed by the authorities, the 1,000 or so who remain are left without a place to sleep or eat.

On Tuesday afternoon, the children's registration unexpectedly shut, leaving charities to try to help hundreds of migrants under the age of 18.

Dorothy Sang, an aid worker for Save the Children, said: "We spent hours trying to negotiate a place for three young Eritrean boys - two were 13 years old and the other was 14 years old.

"Despite their pleading and most of the jungle being burnt to the ground, these boys were refused."

Tanya Ward CEO of charity, The Children's Rights Alliance called on the Irish government to make good on a pledge to take in 4,000 refugees and priorities unaccompanied minors.

"We know that unaccompanied minors have been exposed to serious abuse. They have no schools to attend and many are being exploited by ruthless child traffickers," she said.

"We know from media reports that children as young as eight have been found unaccompanied in the Calais Camp.

"Ireland is well-placed to play a central role in supporting the relocation of these children. We are calling on the Government to urgently act to protect these children.”

Calais' deputy mayor said the French state must take responsibility for relocating the people who remain in and around the "Jungle" camp.

Philippe Mignonet said "there is no way" the migrants can remain "in any kind of camp or squat" in Calais.   

"We knew that about a thousand were somewhere in the area and we have the proof now. It is the French state's responsibility to deal with it so they have to find some solutions," he said.

 

Some simple provisions have been provided by grassroots charities which have been operating in the "Jungle" for many months.

 

A volunteer from Help Refugees UK says some young migrants slept in a makeshift school, while others managed to jump the fence into the containers where registered minors are staying.

At least 30 people slept on the ground outside the containers.

By early afternoon on Wednesday, a combination of migrants, volunteers and some French firefighters had largely brought fires that were raging through the camp under control.

They had burned for hours and left skeletal remains of huts dotted across the huge site.

Plumes of black smoke billowed over the camp and gas canisters exploded as firefighters battled the flames in shelters, tents and small shops.

People walk past as thick smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as "The Jungle" near Calais, northern France | Image: Emilio Morenatti AP/Press Association Images

Calais police commissioner Patrick Visser-Bourdon said four migrants had been arrested in connection with the blazes.

Authorities have blamed the departing migrants, with regional prefect Fabienne Buccio saying many of them "have a tradition" of burning their shelters before leaving.

Mr Visser-Bourdon said that all minors with links to the UK had been transferred from the camp - but a number of charities said this was not true.

Nearly 5,600 adults and children have been resettled since the start of the operation to pull down the camp, according to a statement from the French interior minister's office.

Thousands have been sent to a network of reception centres around France and 234 minors were transferred to Britain, the interior ministry said.

Authorities said some 6,300 people fleeing war and poverty outside Europe had been housed at the jungle, but aid groups said it was actually more than 8,000.

Registered unaccompanied minors, most of them male teenagers, are housed in a semi-permanent shipping container area next to the "Jungle" camp while they wait for French and British asylum experts to process them.

A total of 1,200 minors have been registered and they are now in the container camp.

The concern is that the container camp, known as the CAP, is not secure as it was surrounded on Wednesday by the burning "Jungle".