Councillors pledge support for refugee children

Southwark Liberal Democrats are showing their support for lone refugee children by urging the Government to fund a scheme to allow them to live in the UK

Over the past few weeks residents have contacted local councillors in response to a campaign run by Liberty, the human rights and civil liberties organisation.  The campaign follows pledges by the Government to allow 20,000 children to settle in the United Kingdom by 2020.  It calls on ministers to provide funding to place and support children across councils.

Lone refugee children are a growing issue in Europe.  Children may have been separated from or lost their parents and families after fleeing civil wars in countries such as Iraq and Syria.  There are an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe and they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in refugee camps or human traffickers.

The Government has come under fire for its lack of progress on helping child refugees since promising to help in May.  So far just 20 have been accepted in Britain.  Child refugees endure violence and separation from family members, lose access to education, healthcare, the support of their communities and often face bleak and uncertain futures. 

Southwark Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, said:

“Liberal Democrats believe that the UK must do more to help with the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.  We cannot expect other European countries to pick up the pieces.

“Despite the Government’s promises to help, just twenty child refugees have been settled in the UK since May so more needs to be done. The issue has not gone away.

“This country has a proud record of helping children fleeing Nazi persecution in the 1930s.  Now is the time to help some of the most vulnerable refugee children in Europe.

“The Government needs to make good on its pledge to fund the infrastructure that will allow children to access vital services wherever they are placed in the country. Then Southwark can follow the lead of other councils and play its part in helping lone refugee children.”