Devon

First Calais child migrants arrive at 'respite centre' in Devon

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Image caption Some 23 children arrived at the temporary centre near Great Torrington

A number of child migrants who were being sent to a temporary "respite centre" have been rejected because they are "too old", the BBC understands.

Devon County Council said 23 children from the "Jungle" camp in Calais arrived at the temporary centre near Great Torrington.

But Councillor James McInnes said the figure now stood at 20 after some were considered to be over 18.

The all-male group arrived by bus at about 03:00 BST.

More on the child migrants, plus other Devon and Cornwall news

Image caption Councillor James McInnes, cabinet member for children, said the operation was being funded by the Home Office

Mr McInnes said Devon County Council was contacted last week by the Home Office about the site in north Devon.

"I understand that a couple were rejected because they were considered to be too old," he said. "It goes up and down - it was 23 at one point this morning and now it's 20."

The migrants, originally from Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria, could stay in Devon for up to six weeks.

It is believed they will receive medical checks before they are reunited with family members or moved to other parts of the country.

Image caption MP Geoffrey Cox said the community should "do our part"

The exact location of the centre is not being released. A source told the BBC most of those expected in Devon were over 16 years old.

The children were transported from Croydon, south London, where they were taken from the Jungle camp by a private security company. The Home Office said they were unaccompanied, vulnerable children.

'Compassionate grounds'

Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox said he hoped the community would "rally round" as up to 70 children are expected to be sent to the centre in total.

Mr Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, said: "I hope that the community will feel that we need to rally round to assist these very vulnerable young people on compassionate grounds, if nothing else, because I firmly believe we need to do our part to assist what is a terrible situation that has been allowed to develop in Calais."

Great Torrington resident Laurence Mustoe said some migrants "have come here for the wrong reasons".

He said: "We have enough. They get all the benefits and they get pushed to the top of the waiting list for housing over other people."

Image caption Kate Blundell and Teena Wright welcome the arrival of the child migrants

Resident Kate Blundell said: "I thought they were going to come here permanently so I was disappointed to hear they are going to be temporary.

"I worked with refugee children in north London and they were an absolute credit to themselves."

Robin Julian, leader of the Devon UKIP Group and Devon County Councillor for Bideford South and Hartland, said: "I have been assured that should anybody have any criminality or found to have lied about their age they will be sent back.

"It is good that we are doing our bit as long as it doesn't affect local people. We are so desperate here - we are a poor area. I have been led to believe that all monies are going to be funded by central government and I hope that is the case because we are really struggling."

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