UNHCR urges France to help Calais campers

Sept. 19, 2009 at 2:48 PM

CALAIS, France, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- France's decision to close makeshift settlements housing undocumented foreigners in Calais is a dangerous one for the immigrants, the United Nations says.

The move by Paris to close the camps in the northern port of Calais, where the immigrants are seeking to cross the English Channel to Britain, could deny protection to political refugees and children, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday.

U.N. agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a statement that while High Commissioner Antonio Guterres recognized the right of France to maintain law and order, Guterres noted in talks with French Minister Eric Besson that "among the irregular migrants in the region there are persons in need of international protection, and noted the protection needs of these individuals, particularly the large number of unaccompanied children."

Many of the people living in Calais and waiting to move to Britain are from war-torn counties such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia.

Fleming said that during his meeting with Besson, Guterres urged France to provide accommodation to political asylum-seekers, including unaccompanied children.

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