Child Refugees

I recognise that this is a very emotive issue. The Government is committed to helping the most vulnerable refugees alongside our European partners. I feared that Lord Dubs' amendment would have been detrimental to these relationships and consequently our work with refugees. However, I felt there was more we could do and I have worked to draw attention to this. I am now pleased to support further action for those at-risk unaccompanied children already within the Schengen area. 

I have pressed the Immigration Minister and his team on this issue and I have personally fed in the views of those who have contacted me to ensure that we are taking the most effective humanitarian approach within a complex situation. I was reassured that the Government was listening. The Prime Minster's announcement that we will re-settle the most at-risk unaccompanied child refugees registered before 20th March from within Greece, Italy or France, demonstrates this. I understand that this action will be fulfilled at the same time as the relocation of up to 3,000 at-risk children from within the UNHCR support resettlement schemes located outside of mainland Europe.

I am pleased that the Government's focus remains on how it can play the most effective role in what is an extremely difficult situation and ensure at-risk children are resettled without encouraging more people to make the often perilous journey to Europe frequently feeding into the hands of exploitive traffickers.

No other country in Europe is doing more than we are to help solve this crisis. Unaccompanied children in Calais with relatives in the UK are quite rightly being reunited with their families. The Department for International Development has committed £46 million to help support refugees and a £10 million is fund focused specifically on the needs of children in Europe. The fund will support reunification with family who are already in other EU countries, including the UK and officials are in place on the ground to make this process work.

I believe all Members of Parliament are committed to doing the right thing for children affected by this conflict.  I will continue to follow this matter closely and I will always get involved whenever I can. I am proud of the contribution the UK is making and the good we have already done. 

Locally, I meet regularly with Citizens UK who have been working with local organisations to develop a framework to care for refugees and their families as they are allocated to the area. There is a appetite to welcome child refugees and I am feeding in this information to Ministers so that Taunton Deane can play its rightful part.