child refugees

What Now for Child Refugees?

ImmiNews has reported on the defeat to the Dubs amendment that would see child refugees’ rights enshrined in law and the devastating impact this will have on lone refugee children.

The House of Lords may have put forward its suggestions, including keeping the amendment, but the Conservative Government have rejected every proposed bill change. 342 to 254 MPs voted against liaising with the European Union to ensure minors who are in the UK to claim asylum and have relatives living in the UK are reunited with family.

child refugees
Child refugees need safe passage and a right to reunite with existing family members in the UK. [Image: Barcroft Media, The Metro].

Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay referenced the UK’s “proud record” on supporting lone asylum seeking children, yet only 159 lone children in 2018 were able to access the legislation that ensures they are reunited with family in the UK.  This is a minute number of individuals in comparison to thousands of children at risk. The children this amendment would support, the one that has been denied by the current UK Government, are alone, impoverished and often deeply traumatised.

[This is] “the biggest child refugee crisis since World War Two.”

Unicef UK

Charity Unicef UK has called the ongoing international situation “the biggest child refugee crisis since World War Two.”

Independent fact checking charity, Full Fact, published findings in 2019 that highlight while the UK has resettled more refugees from non-EU countries than neighbouring EU states, resettled refugees are a subset of all refugees that may be granted refugee status. Germany, France, Austria and Sweden currently have higher refugee intake numbers than the UK.

Child refugees stranded in makeshift camps in Greece face abhorrent conditions [Image: AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, Humanosphere]

Field Manager for Help Refugees, Hannah Green, said of her time working on a Greek island amongst those trying to survive in refugee camps: “The only people who will profit from government closing this route [reunification] to safety will be traffickers and those who week to exploit these vulnerable children.”

Green stated that the children in camp are without proper adult guidance or protection, suffer from ill health, live in squalor and are in constant dangerous from predators.

We are witnessing, and will continue to witness, an erosion of policies that seek to support the most marginalised – not just in the UK but across the world under this Conservative Government.

Help Refugees and similar organisations are working at the forefront of this crisis, encouraging the world to continue to fight for these children – and all those caught in this catastrophe, regardless of age – to be seen and heard, not swept away and dismissed by powerful politicians. Donations, whether physical donations of money, clothing or food or those who can volunteer their time are always welcome to provide some form of support and hope to these young people, so cruelly neglected by those who could easily stop so much misery. 

Politicians have a duty to enact policies and to serve the people. We are witnessing, and will continue to witness, an erosion of policies that seek to support the most marginalised – not just in the UK but across the world under this Conservative Government. It is easy to feel hopeless when looking out to the tsunami thundering in, eager to destroy and divide us. What we can do is be aware, speak out, campaign, donate, volunteer, call out problematic rhetoric where we can and in a sense, be the leaders we wish we had.

Perhaps the best advice to those of us horrified by this and fearful of what’s to come can given in the form of poetry, thanks to the beauty of Dylan Thomas: “do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”