MPs from both the Conservative Party and the opposition are pushing for Parliament to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into Britain by suggesting this as an amendment to the Immigration Bill. This amendment including others such as a time limit on detention and the right to work for asylum seekers after 6 months, will be put to a vote in the Commons on the 25th of April. The proposed amendment on bringing 3000 to the UK is partly in response to David Cameron’s proposal to take child refugees from Syrian camps only. This new proposition strives to help refugee children not only in Syrian refugee camps, but also unaccompanied refugee children throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
The leader of the Liberal Democratic party, Tim Farron, has expressed support for this plan, however he expressed concern that taking 3,000 child refugees was not enough. Indeed reports suggest that around 30,000 lone refugee children are already in Europe and are at high risk of exploitation and abuse. Additionally, thousands of these children have disappeared within Europe, strongly suggesting that human trafficking of unaccompanied child refugees is running rampant throughout Europe. As such, the proposed amendment would focus most strongly on helping those children at high risk of falling prey to exploitation such as child abuse and child marriage.
Home Secretary Theresa May commented on the effectiveness of the government’s current policy stating, “That [it] is about children at risk coming from the region, not just unaccompanied children because sometimes they can have a family member or a guardian with them but still be at risk, for example of exploitation or forced marriage…Also we’re putting £10m into providing help and support for children who are in Europe."
Save the Children commented that ministers were beginning to move toward acknowledging that they have a responsibility to take unaccompanied Syrian child refugees from Europe.