A group of young Syrian refugees who had been living in squalid conditions at a refugee camp in France have been reunited with their families in Britain after a potentially landmark court ruling.
The refugees left France after UK activists defeated the British government in a court case that argued the children had the right to live with their carers.
The activist group, Citizens UK, said they hoped their victory could be used as a precedent to reunite refugee families in other parts of Europe.
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from London on Thursday, said the three teenagers and a young disabled man who had been in the infamous Calais camp for several months simply took a high-speed train from Paris to London after the judgment.
Within an hour they were being greeted privately by their relatives who were already living in Britain.
In a nearby cafe, the brother of one of the teenagers could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of being able to look after his younger sibling.
“I want to provide my brother with all the affection he’s missed out on by being on his own for so long. I just want to make up for all the time he was alone so he never lives another day by himself again,” Ahmad, also a refugee, told Al Jazeera.
The British government had argued the children should seek asylum in France and then try to get transferred to Britain. It is not clear whether more children might be able to be reunited with their families in the UK as the government may continue to contest the ruling.
A member of Citizens UK has moved to Calais where she tries to locate children who have relatives in Britain. So far she estimates she has counted 200 in the camp.
“The knowledge that it is hopefully going to help a couple of hundred children in Calais and Dunkirk and possibly many more across Europe if other countries can follow suit is a wonderful, wonderful development,” George Gabriel, a community organiser with Citizens UK, told Al Jazeera.
“It is also a big blow to people smugglers across Europe who exploit the people who are most desperate, which is the families trying to reunite.”
Al Jazeera’s Lee said the Syrian children “disappeared into the London night for a new life no longer surrounded by police with tear gas, but instead in a warm bed with a roof over their heads – some love, and finally some refuge”. Al Jazeera