Tim Farron launches blueprint for UK to take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children

Tim Farron has this afternoon published his blueprint for how the UK could take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children.

Earlier he spoke to the Daily Politics about the plan and his visit to Northern Greece yesterday.

The plan has been drawn up in consultation with the charities and NGOs who attended his recent summit on the issue. The main recommendations are as follows:

The main recommendations cover identifying those 3000 children, protecting them, care, foster care and funding and can be read in the report here.

If you agree with Tim’s plan, there is a petition to sign here.

Tim’s foreword to the report is reproduced in full below.

This year alone approximately 171,000 refugees decided water was safer than land and made the treacherous crossing across the Mediterranean – more than half of them are women and children and a proportion will be young kids all alone. Estimates, even conservative ones, suggest that there are 30,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Europe.

We should not underestimate the risks they face from smugglers and those that would exploit them. At the start of the year Europol, the EU crime agency, warned of gangs targeting child refugees. At least 10,000 children have disappeared after arriving in Europe. The true number is likely to be significantly higher.

The UK cannot stand by and do nothing whilst these children languish in camps and become prey to those that would do them harm. That is why I have been calling on the Government to take 3,000 child refugees who have arrived in Europe. Let me be clear, this is not all the UK should do but the very least we must do. It amounts to five children per parliamentary constituency and I would challenge any MP who argues that they have no room for five vulnerable children.

I have visited the camps in Calais and Lesbos and as I write this I am preparing to travel to Idomeni to visit those stuck on the border between Greece and Macedonia. The children shared stories with me that would have shocked me if they came from adults let alone from young children. I met children who had lost family on the way or who had made the journey by themselves leaving family behind in Turkey or Syria.

All of us would have heard the tragic story of the young person who was killed whilst trying to smuggle his way in to the UK to be reunited with his uncle. No child should have to resort to this. There are still very few safe and legal routes for those whose homes have been destroyed, made inhabitable, or simply are no longer safe to live in.

They come to Europe seeking a safer, better life, to rebuild and to regain their faith in humanity. But so far Europe has not met these ambitions and these vulnerable people, who have already been through so much, now languish in camps while Governments fail to act. The most vulnerable of these are the unaccompanied or separated children, those who have no one to look out for them.

I welcome what the Prime Minister is doing in the region, both in terms of the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme, which will relocate 20,000 vulnerable Syrians from the camps in the region to the UK over a five year period, and with regards to the generous sums of money we are giving to the aid agencies working there.

However, the Government cannot simply ignore those who have already reached Europe. We have a responsibility to work with our European partners to take our fair share. It is clear that the Government’s approach is to deliver as little as possible and there are no signs that anyone in Government is looking for a sustainable solution.

This document is the result of wide consultation and discussion with experts in the field and should be seen as a guide to what is needed for Britain to meet its moral duty. What has become clear during this process is that this presents an opportunity not only for the UK to live up to our values and principles but also to introduce changes to the current system that can benefit all asylum seeking children and our own children in care.

I would like to thank all those organisations who gave up their time and who have contributed significantly to this piece of work. In the coming weeks and months I will be reaching out to those across parties and in Government to see how to take these recommendations forward.

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11 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Apr '16 - 5:35pm

    To people moaning about this: it’s unaccompanied children we are talking about. Some think it is an elaborate scam that parents are using to get themselves and their family into Europe, but if this is the case then we can punish the parents. Don’t refuse to help the children because someone might exploit their situation.

    Europe might not be a warzone, but it is still children not receiving formal education and no parents around.

    Of course the Lib Dems should be focusing on local issues too, but not just local issues.

  • Eddie Sammon 13th Apr '16 - 5:49pm

    PS, the link for the petition needs to leave out the www. for some reason.

    http://change.libdems.org.uk/refugees

    I see the 3,000 child refugee proposal is tied in with some other proposals that are likely to be less popular, so my above post is mainly about the child refugees.

  • Leekliberal 13th Apr '16 - 6:35pm

    Well done Tim! The vulnerability of these unaccompanied children to sexual and other exploitation appals me. The UK Government has to date signally failed to shape up to it’s moral duty in dealing with the victims of the Syria conflict. We have left it the European and Middle-East neighbours to pick up the pieces. The British people are fundamentally decent and given proper leadership will restore our reputation by helping these threatened children.

  • I just want to agree with eddie salmon & leekliberal; Farron & Merkel are rare examples of decency among politicians.

  • John Roffey 14th Apr '16 - 8:00am

    Impossible not to support TF’s efforts – but think how many social evils UK could address if tax laws were strengthened so that tax on off-shore profits were collected.

    Tolley’s Tax Guide [Tolley’s Tax Guide is the only full UK tax reference] is now 10k pages long!

    Unfortunately Osborne is right [but not his methods] – a bankrupt nation, like the UK, can have little impact on global ills or even those at home – we need to, at least, balance the books by eliminating the deficit.

    This could be [relatively] easily achieved through simply toughening tax laws by taxing global corporations at source and making attempts to avoid tax punishable by lengthy prison sentences. Fines will not deter extremely wealthy corporations.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/14/us-corporations-14-trillion-hidden-tax-havens-oxfam

  • @Eddie
    “To people moaning about this: it’s unaccompanied children we are talking about.”

    It’s imposible to moan about anything Farron says here. What it IS possible to moan about is what he ISN’T saying. While he fixates on 3,000, there are millions more – of all ages – who he barely ever mentions.

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Apr '16 - 10:36am

    @ John Marriott,
    When I see those children escaping terror, the picture of my grandchildren also comes to mind. Giving the children sanctuary is the correct thing to do, but as Stuart above says, what about the rest of the distressed children accompanied by adults. It’s the same image as far as I am concerned.

    Call me Pollyanna, but I think that most people think as we do, but what we need to do is be absolutely firm, and be seen to be absolutely firm, when there is exploitation of the system, or when people abuse the system through criminality.

    I hear people saying that some of those who claim to be children look rather older. I don’t know the truth of that, but in order to keep peoples humanitarian instincts to the fore, it does seem that people need to be reassured that the asylum system is not being abused.

  • Liberal Neil 14th Apr '16 - 10:42am

    @Stuart – Tim is focusing on the one element of the crisis where he just might be able to build enough political support to get a change of policy. So while i personally would like the government to go a lot further, I’m not going to criticise Tim for at least pushing for a good start.

  • Richard Underhill 8th May '16 - 8:54pm

    The parents of Richard and David Attenborough allowed the children to decide whether they would take in house guests from the Kindertransport.

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