Observer: Britain “poised to open door” to refugee children

For months now, there have been repeated calls for the UK to take 3000 unaccompanied child refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict.

Tim Farron has been pressing the Government to do so, going as far as tabling a Bill in Parliament. Most of the opposition parties in Parliament and its International Development Committee are in favour.

Tomorrow’s Observer suggests that action may soon be forthcoming:

Amid growing expectation that an announcement is imminent, Downing Street said ministers were looking seriously at calls from charities, led by Save the Children, for the UK to admit at least 3,000 unaccompanied young people who have arrived in Europe from countries including Syria and Afghanistan, and who are judged to be at serious risk of falling prey to people traffickers. Government sources said such a humanitarian gesture would be in addition to the 20,000 refugees the UK has already agreed to accept, mainly from camps on the borders of Syria, by 2020.

Tim Farron isn’t counting any chickens until the announcement is made, saying tonight that he wants to see firm action:

I have repeatedly called for the UK to take in 3,000 unaccompanied refugee orphans and the government must now move from ‘looking’ at the issue to actually rolling out a plan to offer these youngsters a home.

Those who have made it to European shores now face cold winters, harsh conditions and are vulnerable to traffickers and those who want to exploit them. Every moment longer the Prime Minister takes to decide leaves a child alone, without protection and without a future.

We must open our hearts to those in need and I will keep pressing at this for as long as it takes. We can and must help.

It would certainly be very wrong of Downing Street to be briefing so positively if it were not on the brink of taking action. Let’s hope that they just get on with it soon.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Catherine Jane Crosland 24th Jan '16 - 10:25am

    It is important to remember that the reason that the children of the Kindertransport were “unaccompanied” was not, in most cases, that they did not have parents, but that Britain, tragically, only agreed to take unaccompanied children. Yes, the lives of thousands of children were saved, but the vast majority of these children never saw their parents again- or their brothers and sisters who were too young to be sent away alone, or too old to qualify for the Kindertransport. If only Britain had agreed to welcome whole families, and single adults as well.
    I realise the case of the unaccompanied Syrian children is rather different, in that many may be orphans, or have become separated from their parents. But our natural eagerness to help the children, we should not forget that adults are in danger too

  • Katerina Porter 24th Jan '16 - 5:40pm

    This move by the government is very welcome and long overdue. It is not our welfare system that attracts migrants and asylum seekers. Ours is not particularly generous, other countries like France have better ones. Many want to come because they can speak English, many have family here. And many have an idea of the kind of country Britain was, but seems to be moving away from being. When a poor country like Jordan, population four and a half million, has taken in one million, and we with a population of 60 million are dribbling in 20,000 over five years, it is shaming.

  • This “related content” caught my eye:

    Kent struggles with refugee children who arrive alone – ‘we’ve used up every foster carer we have’
    [ ]

    There does seem to be rather a lot of people vying for the media spotlight but missing the problems on their own doorstep. I do hope that the register of 10,000 prospective adoptive families that Home for Good claim to have [ ], has been given to social services to see if children already in care can be placed with them…

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