French government slammed after 26 of 44 Ocean Viking minors escape migrant center

Police officers outside a holiday camping center as they wait for the arrival of migrants in Hyères, France, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.(AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Just 18 of the 44 unaccompanied minors on-board the Ocean Viking rescue ship that docked in France last week remain under supervision, French news outlet Le Figaro reported.

The 234 migrants on board the humanitarian vessel run by French-financed NGO SOS Méditerranée disembarked at the French port of Toulon, where they were taken by coach to a holiday camping center in Hyères to be processed.

It is understood that 44 claimed to be under the age of 18 and were traveling alone; however, French media reports that 26 of these have already given their supervisors the slip and are now missing.

Le Figaro’s information was confirmed by the Les Républicains president of the Var Department Council, Jean-Louis Masson, who told the newspaper: “Three of the 44 minors had already run away the next day.”

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“This (Thursday) morning, 23 more minors are missing, for a total of 26 defections,” he added.

The newspaper noted that most of those in question are Eritreans who have likely opted to leave France and join family or acquaintances in Germany, Norway, or Sweden.

“We don’t have the manpower to hold them back ,” Masson explained. According to him, “these older teenagers” have clearly acted illegaly.

Just a week ago, Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin told French broadcasters that the immigrants “won’t be able to leave the administrative center.”

Regarding the remainder of the Ocean Viking contingent, four have already walked free due to procedural defects, while 44 are understood to be set for deportation from France, although government ministers have been unable to give a timeframe as to when this will occur.

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Executive Vice President of the Reconquête party Marion Maréchal slammed the French government for allowing this to happen.

“Four illegal immigrants have benefited from a procedural defect and are free; 26 of the 44 ‘minors’ have already run away,” she tweeted. “Darmanin controls absolutely nothing and ridicules our country,” Maréchal added.

Marine Le Pen also weighed in, tweeting that the French government had been “humiliated” and the French people “see once again that all of this is out of control.”

Darmanin said earlier this week that just 60 of those who arrived in France from the vessel will be allowed to claim asylum in France, with the remaining eligible for asylum to be redistributed across Europe.

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