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  1. ITV Report

Unaccompanied children in mini 'jungle' camps willing to risk lives travelling by lorry to the UK

Unaccompanied children from conflict zones living in mini 'jungle' camps in France have told ITV News they are still willing to risk their life travelling to the UK on a lorry.

It comes as campaigners say a third of the children sent from Calais to live in safe accommodation have escaped and returned to camps.

These new mini ‘jungles’ are on the side of motorways.

In Dunkirk there are more than 100 unaccompanied children, many hoping to make the journey to Britain.

This boy told ITV News he is willing to risk his life travelling by lorry to the UK. Credit: ITV News

Since the Calais camp closed the UK government has changed the age-range of unaccompanied children from conflict zones it will consider allowing into the country.

It means many minors who would have been eligible for transfer when the camp closed six weeks ago will no longer be considered.

The UK government's new guidelines for who they will consider for transfer to the UK are:

  • All minors with close family in the UK
  • Minors aged 15 and under from Syria and Sudan
  • Unaccompanied minors aged 12 and under from every other country
  • Those at high risk of sexual exploitation
  • Under 18s who are the accompanying sibling any of the above

The guideline change means a group of 16-year-old Eritrean girls currently living in a camp in northern France may have missed their chance to come to the UK.

This 16-year-old Eritrean girl may have missed her opportunity to come to the UK. Credit: ITV News

They left the Calais camp early as they were scared of the demolition, meaning they missed the arrival of the Home Office.

One of the girls told ITV News: “I was afraid of police, if they catch me, if they put me somewhere else, and I will never come back and I will never see my friends.

"I don’t know what to do. Maybe when they are done in Calais they will come here to see us."

The government has committed to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrians, including families, and say they are on track to meet that target.

This year 750 unaccompanied children have been brought to the UK.

'UK' is scrawled across a wall in one of the new jungle camps Credit: ITV News