Tim Farron to host urgent summit on unaccompanied refugee children

An urgent summit to discuss unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have fled conflict, poverty and persecution will be chaired by leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron.

Liberal Democrats have been pressing the Government to take 3000 orphaned child refugees who have reached European shores.

Tim recognises that accepting these children will have an impact on public services and will require local authorities, charities and central government to work together to mitigate these challenges. This roundtable seeks to explore best working practice and establish how central government can act to support local authorities both financially and from an operational and logistical perspective.

The summit on February 10th will bring MPs from across the political spectrum, like Caroline Lucas, who have campaigned with Liberal Democrats for the Government to do more to tackle the refugee crisis. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Local Government Association and Save the Children will join the summit to debate the best way forward.

Liberal Democrats hope that the roundtable will clarify some of the questions around how Britain can welcome these children. In the face of this crisis MPs and campaigners need to continue lobbying Government for a more open-hearted and fuller response.

Tim said:

The government’s response so far has been not only pathetic but I’d actually call it callous. They, on one hand say they are helping people while making sure headlines scream no children can come here.

The Prime Minister with these type of actions demeans his office and hurts our country.

The Prime Minister’s cold hearted vision of Britain is not mine, and it’s not the vast majority of the public’s either.

I hope that by bringing all partner organisations and other MP’s of all parties who share my commitment on the issue together to lay out a more positive plan to help those unaccompanied children in Europe who have to be down in doorways night after night thousands of miles away from home.

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  • I hope the ‘summit’ will be more than a talking shop and focus on finding viable solutions at both national and local level that will persuade the UK to open its doors to ‘unaccompanied asylum seeking children’.

  • Without trying to be harsh we should remember that the majority of these unaccompanied children are males between the age of 16 and 18. Many turn up without any papers and looking much older than teenagers. In Sweden – who have taken in many thousands – around 70% have later been classed as over 18. These young men are not easy to manage and are hardly suitable for adoption or fostering. Myself I would prefer our efforts to be concentrated on families with young children and “selected” cases of unaccompanied children. I’m afraid 16 year olds with full beards and no papers would be way down the line.

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