Immigration Minister James Brokenshire hosted an event for NGOs and local authorities yesterday (11 February) to discuss support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) impacted by the ongoing migrant situation.
A range of local authorities and NGOs, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF and Save the Children, were in attendance to share expertise and discuss how continued support can be provided to unaccompanied refugee children in and around the Syrian region; in transit in Europe and those in the UK.
Discussion centred on how best to provide support to unaccompanied children, as well as how to prevent children from making dangerous journeys and putting themselves at risk of exploitation and child traffickers.
Richard Harrington, the Minister for Syrian Refugees, who is leading the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme, and Kevin Hyland, the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, were also present at the meeting.
Speaking at the roundtable event, the Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
We are dedicated to doing more to support vulnerable children but we must be guided by the best interests of the child. We have to determine those whose needs are best met in the region and those who would benefit most from resettlement to the UK.
“We will consider the advice from NGOs and local authorities as well as feedback from UNHCR who are currently providing us with advice on when it is in the best interests of a child to be resettled in the UK.”
In a statement delivered to the House of Commons last month, James Brokenshire announced that the UK Government will work with the UNHCR to resettle unaccompanied refugee children from around the Syrian region.
This will complement the existing substantial UK aid and resettlement programmes which are already helping many thousands of children at risk around the region.
As part of the same statement the Minister announced that the Department for International Development has created a new £10 million fund which will include targeted support for unaccompanied minors in Europe.
The support will offer safe places to children at risk, counselling and legal advice, and help with tracing children to their families.