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If UK doesn't help lone migrant children it's hard to know who will - World Vision

Thu 28 Jan 2016
By Aaron James

World Vision has said that if Britain does not take in some of the unaccompanied migrant children who've travelled to Europe, it's hard to know who will.

The Christian humanitarian charity was speaking after the UK government rejected calls from Save the Children and some MPs to take 3,000 lone migrant children who'd reached the continent.

Instead, Britain will take in a currently undisclosed number of unaccompanied children from refugee camps on the Syrian border.

This is on top of the 20,000 Syrian refugees it has already pledged to take in by 2020, of which around 1,000 have already been taken in.

The government has also pledged £10m towards helping lone children who've already arrived in Europe.

It said it does not want to create a "magnet" encouraging more people to make the potentially fatal journey to Europe, only to be possibly sent home again.

However the Christian and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called the decisions "heartless and foolish".

Sarah Pickwick, World Vision's Senior Conflict Advisor, told Premier's News Hour: "I was in Serbia only last week and I met a mother with five children, all under eight, who were sick from their travel on the boat.

"And if you consider that's the kind of vulnerabilities that children are having with their family, then when they're travelling on their own those risks are just heightened.

"Those particularly are very, very vulnerable and they need support right now. They've gone through so much and if they do not get support now we wonder who would help them.

"We would again urge the government that resettling 3,000 unaccompanied children [in Europe] in addition to the 20,000, will just be able to really care for the needs of those children."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We are very deliberately not putting a target on it, because it is about identifying those children who most need our help and support in terms of being resettled in the UK."

"It is about dealing with the children, supporting them, in the best possible way we can, rather than taking an arbitrary number and saying 'We will help this many'."

"Ultimately, we will be guided by the UNHCR. The UNHCR have always said that broadly they prefer to keep unaccompanied children in the region.

"There will be some vulnerable children for whom the UNHCR will decide the best course of action would be for them to leave the region.

"These are the ones we are looking to resettle in the UK."

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speaking to Sarah Pickwick on the News Hour:

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