Singer Lily Allen has apologised “on behalf of my country” after seeing the squalid conditions refugees are languishing in at the Calais camp known as the Jungle.
She broke down in tears at one point during a meeting with a 13-year-old boy from Afghanistan, who has risked his life trying to board UK-bound lorries.
The teenager, who says his father lives in Birmingham, has been camped at the Jungle on the edge of the northern French port city for two months.
During their meeting, 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.
On her visit, the singer volunteered in a warehouse where donations come in which are then distributed to the estimated 10,000 migrants and refugees living at the camp.
And she also visited a bus for women and children where she heard stories of some of the desperate measures people living there have gone to in order to try and reach Britain.
Allen said: “It would seem to me that there are people who have been driven very far away from what they know and love, stability and comfort.
“I don’t think anyone would choose to live in the Jungle. No-one would choose that.”
Allen said she frequently “sits next to millionaires at dinner”, and that she would like to be able to ask them to “put their hands in their pocket”.
The singer tweeted pictures earlier this year after going to a party attended by guests including Rupert Murdoch and Nigel Farage.
French president Francois Hollande has said that the camp will close before winter, with its inhabitants dispersed around the country.
It has become a symbol of his government’s failure to tackle Europe’s migrant crisis and a target of criticism from conservative and far-right rivals seeking to unseat him.
Homelessness charity Emmaus has called for a postponement to the closure because it says “all conditions are not met for an efficient humanitarian operation to take place”.
The head of Secours Catholique in the Calais area, Vincent de Coninck, is adamant the port city will remain a transit point to Britain.
By Press Association