Leading politicians and charities have called on the government to take more action to rescue unaccompanied and orphaned child refugees stranded in Europe.
Over the past few weeks Save the Children has appealed to the government “to take in up to 3,000 of these lone children”. This plea has been supported by a number of MPs.
Labour’s shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, commented that, ‘just miles from our doorstep, there are hundreds of refugee children in makeshift French camps living alone in abhorrent conditions’. His call was for the government to do more to help these abandoned children find a place of safety, insisting that ‘the vast majority of people in Britain would support the campaign.’
The appeal to take in abandoned unaccompanied children was a key issue Monday’s parliamentary debate, with Yvette Copper urging the government to take immediate action on saving these lost children who are “taking crazy risks to find safety”.
Tory MP, Sir Eric Pickles, also joined the campaign and called on the Prime Minister and his peers to take a stand in the current crisis. Pickles, made a point of reminding the commons of the resemblance between the danger faced by Jewish refugee children during the Second World War and the current child refugee crisis.
"We need to remember the enormous contribution that the Kindertransport made to this country: distinguished doctors, distinguished surgeons, members of both Houses were saved by that.”
Sir Eric Pickles further stated that, “there are children out there who are at risk and I would urge the Government to look carefully about this”.
As it stands there are more than 26,000 unaccompanied or orphaned child refugees around Europe, Save the Children, stated that, “the 3,000 number was calculated as Britain’s fair share of the children who arrived in Europe in 2015 without any family. They come from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere, some of them teenagers, some as young as eight.”
David Cameron’s indecisiveness has been put down to the upcoming EU referendum, where immigration is a key issue.
Yet, despite the growing pressure to take action, the government has yet to make any statement, James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister, stated that the government was “actively considering the proposals”. While in an interview with Sky News, International Development Secretary, Justine Greening said, “If David Cameron agrees to take refugee children from Europe it would represent a softening of the Government position.”
Furthermore, no clarity has been given as to if or when a decision is made, the recommended numbers would be in addition to or part of the 20,000 intake already pledged by the government.