SARAH CHAMPION MP URGES GOVERNMENT TO OFFER UNACCOMPANIED REFUGEE CHILDREN SANCTUARY IN THE UK

In a speech to Parliament, Sarah Champion MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Abuse and Domestic Violence, will urge the Government to back a Labour amendment to the Immigration Bill and support the relocation of 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from across Europe. Children made up a third of all refugees and migrants in Europe in February 2016, up from one in ten in June1. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children estimate that there are currently 24,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Europe2. Unaccompanied children are at particular risk of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The Labour amendment, tabled by Lord Dubs, passed in the Lords by 100 votes and calls upon the Government to accept 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from across Europe. The move is backed by campaign groups and children's charities but as yet is opposed by the Government.

In the speech, Ms. Champion will also criticise the Government's changes to legal aid which have left unaccompanied migrant children unable to access legal advice or representation, leaving them outside of the law and open to exploitation.

Sarah Champion MP will say:

The number of unaccompanied children that are now making these treacherous journeys to Europe is an incredibly serious and complex issue.

This is a small, but significant amendment that has the potential to provide safety and stability to children for whom conflicts in their home countries are far beyond their comprehension, let alone their control.

For a number of years now, Labour have been calling on the Government to do more to help vulnerable refugees fleeing violence, abuse and oppression. At every stage the Government have been reluctant to respond.

The Government must recognize and respond to public and Parliamentary pressure, and support unaccompanied children in Europe.

NewsVanessa Johns