Britain must do more for migrant children

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UK must do more to take migrant children caught up in the Mediterranean crisis 

15th June 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Britain should provide a home for at least 1,500 migrant children who are now stranded in the Mediterranean, Save the Children has said.

The charity is demanding the UK play its part in supporting the influx of close to 60,000 people, including more than 5,000 children who have attempted to flea countries such as Libya, Syria, Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia this year.

Most of the children, who are now mainly in Italy and Greece, are travelling alone without an adult’s protection, said Save the Children, with many enduring horrific journeys along the way. 

The charity made the call as European ministers met in Luxembourg on 16 June to discuss the crisis.

Italy’s reception centres and children’s homes are now overwhelmed with the demand, meaning some vulnerable children have to sleep rough or stay in sports halls and churches.

They risk falling prey to people traffickers and being forced into prostitution, child labour and the drug trade, according to the charity.

This is an Europe-wide problem that requires an Europe-wide solution - Justin Forsyth

The situation in Greece is even worse, with reception systems straining under the pressure of thousands of new arrivals, according to the charity.  

The charity is calling on the UK to play its part by offering to relocate at least 1,500 unaccompanied children from Italy and to be prepared to do likewise to respond to the similar situation unfolding in Greece.  

Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth said: “Britain showed real leadership by deploying HMS Bulwark to help restart rescue operations in the Mediterranean – the navy is doing incredible work, rescuing nearly 3,000 people in the last weeks alone. Without the rescue boats, children would potentially have drowned off the shores of Europe.

“We ask that people all over Britain join us in saying a heartfelt thank you to the crew of HMS Bulwark for their life-saving work.” 

“But European leaders must acknowledge the problem doesn't go away when people are brought to shore. For many migrants, including lone children at risk from people traffickers, their ordeal isn’t over when they land in Europe. Italy and Greece cannot be expected to bear the brunt of this issue – this is an Europe-wide problem that requires an Europe-wide solution.” 

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