Bernard Cazeneuve.jpg
Photograph: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

France and Britain will work together to reunite migrant children with their families across the English Channel, interior ministers for the two countries said Monday as France prepares to dismantle the makeshift encampments that have burgeoned near Calais.

The two countries agreed to jointly fight human smuggling networks and Britain said it would up its investment in securing the border, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a joint statement issued after their meeting in London.

Last spring, French President Francois Hollande and former British prime minister David Cameron agreed to work together to fast-track cases of unaccompanied minors in camps near Calais who were waiting for a chance to cross the Channel to reunite with family members in Britain.

Since Britain's referendum to leave the European Union, the two countries have continued with most of their long-standing agreements for managing the situation near Calais. Many migrants and potential asylum seekers gather at camps there for a chance to cross over to Britain on lorries or through train tunnels.

The route is highly dangerous and uncertain, prompting some people to seek entrance with smugglers. Cazeneuve said that 33 networks that supported illegal people movement had been dismantled since the beginning of the year.

At the same time, France plans to permanently dismantle the encampments near Calais before the end of the year, sending asylum seekers to accommodation centres throughout the country.

Cazeneuve said that some 7,000 places had been found, but that more would be needed.

At the same time, rights organizations have estimated there are approximately 300 unaccompanied minors at the makeshift encampments near the northern French port city. Cazeneuve said that some 73 had already been accommodated, but that there were still 200 unaccompanied minors.

Some of those children are trying to get to Britain because they have family members there, and France was working with British authorities to establish a list of minors who had family across the Channel.

Earlier, Cazeneuve had called on Britain to take on its "moral duty" in allowing minors living in migrant camps near Calais to reunite with their families.

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