Paris (CNN)Dozens of children were forced to spend the night in a partially demolished migrant camp in Calais after French authorities failed to find them a safe space to stay, aid groups said Friday.
Work to empty and demolish The Jungle migrant camp began Monday — but as of Thursday, approximately 100 unaccompanied minors remained at the camp with nowhere to go.
Chaotic scenes unfolded outside the camp as the day wore on, with riot police barring entry to the camp and the authorities threatening that anyone who hadn’t been registered could be taken into custody.
Aid workers who waited with teenagers who hadn’t managed to register during the week because of long lines said they had finally been allowed back into what remained of the ramshackle camp to sleep.
The minors were permitted to stay in the makeshift school and mosque on the outskirts of The Jungle, Alexandra Simmons, of the charity Care4Calais, told CNN on Friday. Some had already spent the previous night sleeping rough at the camp.
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, told CNN via email: “School quiet this morning. Children given food and drink. Some have wandered off into the camp or elsewhere which is exactly what we feared.”
She said the police had come to the site and asked for a headcount, which was 106 children and nine adults.
The police chief said he was going to ask the Calais authorities for a bus to take the children to one of the temporary accommodation centers where adults from the camp have already been taken, she said.
Shortly before Thursday’s standoff ended, Care4Calais had tweeted that the French authorities had told “all remaining people at the camp to leave immediately, without care for where they go or how they get there.”
Dorothy Sang, a spokeswoman for Save the Children who has spent days in the camp, tweeted Friday morning: “Last night we couldn’t find spaces for minors so they were forced to sleep back in the #calaisjungle. Unacceptable.”
The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, was also strongly critical of the operation, warning of the dangers of human traffickers exploiting vulnerable young people.
“The UK and French governments promised to keep children safe throughout the demolition,” it said in a statement Thursday. “Yet right now, the situation for some children in Calais is more dangerous than ever.