Tuesday, May 17

PM Rejects Calls To Take 3,000 Migrant Children



David Cameron has rejected calls to take in refugee children who have become separated from their parents and travelled to Europe. A Downing Street adviser told Sky News they did not want to create “a magnet” to attract more migrants to cross the Mediterranean.

However, Britain has offered to resettle more vulnerable children from refugee camps near Syria and offer some assistance to migrant children in Europe.

In a somewhat confusing announcement, the Government said a new initiative was being launched to help unaccompanied children in countries surrounding Syria who would be better off in the UK because their “needs cannot be met in the region”.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said the UK would work with the United Nations refugee agency – the UNHCR – to identify “exceptional cases”.

At the same time, the Department for International Development (DFID) is to establish a new fund of up to £10m to support vulnerable migrant children in Europe and this could include resettling some from counties such as Greece and Italy in to the UK, if they have family here.

Save the Children for Britain wants the UK to admit at least 3,000 young people who have reached Europe from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.

A Syrian refugee child looks on, moments after arriving on a raft with other Syrian refugees on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos But the Government has not put a figure on how many children it expects to accept under the scheme.

Mr Brokenshire said: “The vast majority are better off staying in the region so they can be reunited with surviving family members.”

Yvette Cooper, who chairs Labour’s refugee task force, told Sky News it was a “welcome step forward” but urged ministers to do more to help child refugees travelling alone in Europe.

“We obviously want to see the detail of how it will work in practice and how many children will be helped,” she said.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Sky News: “The Government’s proposals are not anything like as generous, or as ambitious or as decent as what Save the Children and myself had been calling for these last six months, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The UK has offered £1.1bn in assistance to the war-torn region and it is clear the Government’s priority remains helping those who remain close to home rather than travel to Europe.

In a call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday night David Cameron discussed the issue of Syria.

After the call, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “They agreed a further key objective would be to secure an ambitious package of measures to spur economic growth and enable hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees across the region to work, as well as helping host countries deal with the impact.

“The Prime Minister, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Solberg noted this would be a genuinely innovative and effective way of addressing the migration crisis, providing refugees with real hope and opportunity for the future and reducing the incentives to make the perilous journey to Europe.”