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Lily Allen welcomes arrival of Jungle camp youth who caused her to break down

Published 19/10/2016

The British Dental Association said teeth checks on Calais migrants to determine their age would be 'inappropriate and unethical'
The British Dental Association said teeth checks on Calais migrants to determine their age would be 'inappropriate and unethical'

Singer Lily Allen has welcomed the fast-tracked arrival to the UK of a teenage boy who caused her to break down in tears when she visited the Jungle camp in Calais.

Shamsher Sherin, 13 - who has a right to live in the UK through his family ties, was one of around a dozen children who were brought by bus to meet with Home Office officials in Croydon, south London, on Wednesday, as the French camp prepares for demolition.

The Afghan national smiled as he made his way inside the building for screening and interview, and is expected to be reunited with his family later.

Allen tweeted: "So happy to see that Sham Sher made it to the UK safely and won't be risking his life jumping on to moving vehicles."

The teenager had been camped at the Jungle on the edge of the northern French port city for two months.

During their meeting earlier this month, Allen told him: "It just seems that at three different intervals in this young boy's life, the English in particular have put you in danger.

"We've bombed your country, put you in the hands of the Taliban and now put you in danger of risking your life to get into our country.

"I apologise on behalf of my country. I'm sorry for what we have put you through."

Allen wiped tears from her eyes at the end of their exchange, which was broadcast on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

The boy was shepherded into the government building as relatives and supporters waited behind barricades, some holding "welcome" signs.

The latest arrivals came after some critics argued those who arrived on Tuesday appeared to be much older than 18.

Tory MP David Davies has been accused in the House of Commons of fuelling "xenophobic attacks" after he said the teenagers "don't look like children" and should be given dental checks to prove their age.

The SNP's Neil Gray also labelled Mr Davies's remarks "disgraceful".

But the chairman of the Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee defended his comments, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We must not be naive about this. It's no good Lily Allen turning up with tears in her eyes and all the rest of it - we need to be quite hard-nosed here."

The arrival of the group, made up of youngsters who are said to originate from a variety of war-torn countries - including Syria and Sudan, has been welcomed by charities and faith leaders.

The first 14 children arrived earlier this week ahead of the Jungle camp's anticipated clearance.

More children are expected to arrive this week after a team of British officials were sent to Calais to help French authorities speed up the transfer of minors ahead of the dismantling of the camp.

Campaigners including Citizens UK, which said it has reunited 60 children from Calais with relatives in Britain since March, claim to have identified hundreds of children in the camp who have a right to come to the UK - either because they have family ties here under the so-called Dublin regulations, or through the Dubs amendment.

Figures from the Home Office showed that more than two-thirds of refugees who had their ages assessed were found to be adults, despite claiming to be children.

Data from the year ending in June revealed that 1,060 asylum applicants' ages were called into question. Of the 933 who were recorded as having an age assessment, 636 (68%) were deemed to be over 18.

The Home Office refused to comment on the latest consignment of vulnerable children, with a spokeswoman saying the department "would not provide a running commentary".

In an interview with the Telegraph, Shamsher's father Hazrat Gul Sherin said he was "shocked" when he first saw his son pictured with pop star Allen in a news article.

"I was so happy my son was alive," he told the paper.

"And I was later able to speak to him and felt such relief. I rang my wife in Afghanistan to let her know that Shamsher is safe."

Mr Sherin, who fled his homeland in 2005, told how his son had been targeted by the Taliban and also urged by his mother Noorbabo to flee Afghanistan in fear that he would be recruited by Islamic State.

Mr Sherin added: "The Taliban tried to take him off to one of their camps. So my wife raised money through the rest of the family to pay for him to escape, as I had done 10 years earlier."

Press Association

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