A group of Conservative MPs have criticised the government for not doing enough to help vulnerable child refugees in Calais and tackle the traffickers profiting from their suffering.
The 10 backbench politicians made their plea in an open letter organised by Unicef, calling on home secretary Amber Rudd to safeguard children with a legal right to enter Britain.
They pointed to the “heartbreaking” death of a 14-year-old boy, who died in the Calais migrant camp when he fell off a truck while trying to reach the UK.
“He had a legal right to be with his brother,” they wrote, “but having waited for months in wretched conditions for the process to work, he took fate into his own hands with devastating consequences.
“He had travelled thousands of miles to find his family and his journey ended in tragedy twenty miles from our border.”
The MPs, including home affairs select committee interim chair Tim Loughton, said they were “heartbroken” by the scenes of children living alone in tents, living in fear and “at risk of losing their lives”.
“With the French authorities planning to dismantle the camp, life is only likely to get harder for these vulnerable children,” they said.
“It is critical that we in the UK ensure that unaccompanied children with a legal right to be here are kept safe while they wait.
“This means working with France to ensure children are moved out of the camp before the bulldozers arrive, and into a safe place where they have access to the legal support and social care they need...
“We can do more to help these children and in doing so we will defeat the traffickers.”
The signatories included former education secretary Nicky Morgan, Dr Sarah Wollaston and ex-shadow justice minister David Burrowes.
Also putting their name to the Unicef note were MPs Caroline Answell, David Amess, Jason McCartney, Flick Drummond, Jeremy Lefroy and James Gray.