Parliamentary Committee backs calls for UK to take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children

Westminster’s International Development Select Committee has backed calls by Save the Children for the Government to take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children from Syria.

From the BBC:

The International Development Committee said it backed calls from charities for the UK to accept more unaccompanied minors as a matter of “utmost urgency”.

Lone children risked being forced into prostitution or the drugs trade unless given sanctuary, the MPs said.

The UK has taken 1,000 refugees so far as part of a 20,000 five-year target.

But humanitarian campaigners say this is inadequate and that refugees already in Europe should qualify for resettlement under the UK’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme, which is currently restricted to those in refugee camps in Syria and neighbouring countries.

The BBC gives the teensiest, tiniest mention to the fact that Tim Farron supports this measure, but doesn’t quite capture the extent of his support, going as far as actually trying to make it happen by lodging a bill in Parliament.

Tim welcomed the Committee’s decision, saying:

It is good to see the International Development Committee endorsing our call on the government to accept 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.

There are many thousands of orphaned children fleeing war and persecution in Syria. Britain has always been a beacon of hope for people in their darkest hour. It is time for Britain to do the right thing. The government must now act to save these vulnerable children by offering them safety and sanctuary in the UK.

It could not be clearer these children deserve our support and our help. David Cameron must start turning warm words into positive action.

Politicians from all parties in this country are agreed the Kindertransport, which brought over unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany in 1938, was the right thing to do. Now we need a new Kindertransport to save another group of vulnerable children, and send a clear signal of the renewal of the British values of which we are so proud.

We now have to wait to see how the Government responds. It would be good to think that they would use the committee’s recommendations as an excuse to carry out the review Cameron promised Tim Farron before the Syria vote, but it’s probably wise not to hold your breath on that score.

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One Comment

  • Simon Horner 5th Jan '16 - 9:45am

    Well done to Tim Farron for highlighting the tragedy of the Syrian orphans. Britain should certainly be offering refuge to these suffering children.
    I am concerned, however, about the constant references to the Kindertransport scheme – which was not specific to orphans – as somehow being evidence of our tradition of helping victims of persecution. I think we are in danger of creating a “noble British” myth that doesn’t fit entirely with the reality.
    After Kristallnacht, the UK government made it clear that it would only give refuge to Jewish children – and on the strict condition that they would not be a “burden” on the state. Their mothers and fathers, most of whom later died in concentration camps, were not included in the offer. Parents who were far-sighted enough to anticipate what might be coming had a heart-wrenching experience breaking up their families to keep their children safe.
    This was certainly better than nothing (and better than the efforts of other countries) but I doubt if it would be acceptable today.
    The real heros of the Kindertransport story were the compassionate individuals like Sir Nicholas Winton who cajoled a reluctant British state into offering a bare minimum.

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