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Government fails unaccompanied children in Europe

Categories: Articles:Asylum & Refugees, Articles:Social Justice | Published: 07/08/2017 | Views: 1363

By closing the Dubs scheme, the Government has left unaccompanied children at the mercy of traffickers.

In March 2016 the Government passed the so-called Dubs Scheme to bring to the UK unaccompanied children travelling alone in Europe after fleeing war and hostilities in their own countries, many of whom at risk of trafficking.

But by February 2017 the Home Office abruptly curtailed the scheme after only 200 children had been brought to the UK. Parliament was told that the cap on numbers was set at 350, far lower than the 3,000 that had been previously discussed in parliament.

In a statement to the Parliament the Home Secretary announced that the Dubs scheme was being limited because it acted as a ‘pull factor’ for traffickers, but offered no evidence to support this position.

Contrary to this claim the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Slavery had been advised by NGOs monitoring the situation that the withdrawal of the scheme had left unaccompanied children completely stranded and with no-one to turn to but traffickers already operating in Europe and dozens of children had already gone missing.

The APPG committed to undertaking a fact finding Inquiry, but the General Election called soon after meant it was dissolved until the next parliament. Rather than delay any further, the Human Trafficking Foundation stepped in and agreed to sponsor an Independent Inquiry to be co-chaired by APPG’s Co-Chairs Fiona Mactaggart and Baroness Butler-Sloss supported by a small team in order to gather evidence from those working in the UK and in Europe with the most vulnerable children.

This was a deliberately rapid Inquiry. The situation for unaccompanied children can deteriorate fast without any safeguards in place, as we found out in April this year when a fire at the La Liniere migrant camp in Dunkirk razed the camp to the ground and hundreds of children went missing.

The Inquiry was appalled to hear the child protection crisis in Northern France due to the official policy of ‘no tolerance’ towards migrants and the escalation of riot police violence towards children in Calais with the routine use of CS (tear gas) and pepper spray on children and on their clothes and sleeping bags.

Evidence came forward of unaccompanied children forced into situations of sex for survival and having to witness the most brutal violence in uncontrolled encampments, or being sleep deprived through being made to move on from rough sleeping in the woods, having their sleeping bags pepper sprayed so they can’t use them but given nowhere safe to go.  Read on


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