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Half the children from humanitarian ship Ocean Viking have ‘fled French centres’

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More than half the children who disembarked from the Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship last week have fled from migrant reception centres, French authorities said.

Some 26 of the 44 unaccompanied youngsters have escaped the facilities made available to them, the council of the southern French Var region said in a statement on Friday.

Three left the centres the day after arriving on November 11, with the other 23 leaving on subsequent days, departmental official Jean-Louis Masson told French media.

Meanwhile, French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said this week 44 of the total 234 migrants face deportation “as soon as their health allows” – while more could also be deported.

Mr Darmanin reluctantly allowed the maritime rescue ship to dock in Toulon during a row over its fate which threatened EU efforts to share around asylum seekers.

The French welcome for the Ocean Viking unleashed fury from far-right rivals of the French government.

Migrant advocates expressed relief but lamented that it took weeks to find a harbour for the ship as Italy refused to let it dock.

On Friday, they vowed to send their vessels back out to the Mediterranean to save others in distress.

The Ocean Viking disembarked its passengers at the Toulon port – people from Eritrea, Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other nations, including 44 unaccompanied minors and children as young as three.

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