The government is fully committed to helping and supporting the most vulnerable children; we have contributed significantly to hosting, supporting and protecting vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis.
This is part of our wider response of taking 23,000 people from the region. We have already granted asylum, or another form of leave, to over 8,000 children. Local authorities across the country are currently supporting over 4,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
The children transferred came under section 67 are being cared for by local authorities across the country. We take our responsibility to those children very seriously and safeguarding them is of paramount importance.
Following consultation with local authorities, the government has set the number of children who will be transferred under the scheme at 480. We have invited referrals of eligible children from France, Greece and Italy and our officials have visited France, Greece and Italy in recent months to put in place processes to identify and transfer eligible children.
In the last week I myself have spoken to my counterparts in Greece and Italy specifically on this issue and I will follow this up in face-to-face meetings in both those countries next week. It is important to remember that the process for transferring children must be implemented in line with each individual Member State’s national laws. All transfers of children to the UK must be carried out safely and with the best interests of children at the centre of all decisions regarding transfer.
The ongoing work to transfer children under section 67 is in addition to our other commitments. We continue to work closely with Member States and relevant partners to ensure that children with family in the UK can be transferred quickly and safely.
Our approach continues to be to take refugees directly from conflict regions, providing refugees with a more direct and safe route to the UK, rather than risking the hazardous journey to Europe. We are committed to resettling 23,000 people from the region and our resettlement schemes are some of the largest and longest running schemes in the EU.
So far the UK had resettled more than 7,000 people under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. Our schemes allow children to be resettled with their family members, thereby discouraging them from making perilous journeys to Europe alone.
I will conclude by saying families continue to arrive from the region. One family has arrived today; just yesterday 199 individuals and 80 are due to arrive next week, all part of the government’s approach to helping the most vulnerable.