Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Protecting the children

Unaccompanied child migrants living in squalid conditions across Europe should not be treated as “somebody else’s problem” by the UK Government, a new cross-party parliamentary report has urged. It condemns the UK and EU member states for shirking their responsibility to care for unaccompanied children.

The 113-page document, produced by the House of Lords’ European Union Committee, includes testimonies from witnesses that paint a harrowing picture of the “squalor, destitution and desperation” unaccompanied children face in the EU. It pours scorn on EU member states for their reluctance to accept responsibility and share the burden of unaccompanied children. But the report singles out the UK for particular criticism, adding: “We deplore the continuing resistance of the UK Government to show solidarity with its European partners in helping to relocate such children.” It goes on to say, “It is particularly shocking that so many unaccompanied child migrants are falling out of the system altogether and going missing. How can member states, including the UK, tolerate a situation where there are more than 10,000 missing migrant children in the EU?”

  The report also categorically dismisses the Government’s argument that the prospect of family reunification could encourage families to send children to Europe unaccompanied in order to act as an “anchor” for other relatives.

It also criticises the “lack of burden sharing” between local authorities in Britain - while the 32 London authorities have taken in 1,304 children just 50 are cared for by the 16 authorities in the South West. The report, ‘Children in Crisis: unaccompanied migrant children in the EU’, recommends the establishment of an independent guardianship scheme – at both an EU and UK level – to ensure decision are taken in the best interests of migrant children.

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