LONDON/PARIS Britain will honour a commitment to take in migrant children from the "Jungle" camp in the French port city of Calais, interior minister Amber Rudd said on Monday, urging France to help her speed the process.
Rudd said progress had been made at a meeting with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to help resettle unaccompanied children in the camp to Britain or to a safe children's centre while any necessary paperwork is processed.
Britain has been accused of dragging its heels on helping move the around 1,000 unaccompanied children in the Jungle, an overcrowded camp which is home to nearly 10,000 people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
Paris has said the camp will be demolished soon.
"The UK government has made clear its commitment to resettle vulnerable children under the Immigration Act and ensure that those with links to the UK are brought here using the Dublin regulation," Rudd told parliament.
Under EU rules known as the Dublin regulation, asylum seekers must make an initial claim in the first country they reach, but can have their application examined in another if, for example, they have relatives living there.
"We have made good progress today but there is much more work to do," Rudd said, referring to the meeting with Cazeneuve where the two sides agreed to speed up the process of moving the children before the camp is demolished.
Rudd said more than 80 unaccompanied children have been accepted for transfer under the Dublin regulation since the beginning of this year and urged France to come up with a list of those who are also eligible to move under EU rules.
Earlier, Cazeneuve said he would press the case for Britain to honour its commitment to take in the children after the Red Cross charity said many had been held back by bureaucracy.
"Of the estimated 1,000 unaccompanied children who are currently living in the Calais Jungle, 178 have been identified as having family ties to the UK. This gives them the right to claim asylum in the same country," the Red Cross said.
Calais is one of several places in western Europe faced with huge build-ups of migrants.
More than 11,000 were rescued in just 48 hours last week off the coast of Libya as they sought to cross the sea to Europe.
(Reporting by Brian Love and Michel Rose in Paris, Elizabeth Piper in London,; Editing by Stephen Addison)