Friday, 17 Jan 2020

The UK should not become a nation that keeps families apart

Family for Every Child is calling on the UK Government not to evade its humanitarian responsibilities by keeping refugee children separated from their families.

From Monday (20th January), the House of Lords will begin to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which writes the Government’s Brexit deal into law. Originally the bill contained protections for child refugees, which have now been deleted. The reasons for this are unclear, but not keeping to these responsibilities places already highly vulnerable children at even more risk.

What this means for children

Currently under the Dublin III agreement, children who arrive alone in Europe can apply to be united with family in any EU member state. For example, this could be a child fleeing war and has a family relative elsewhere in Europe who is willing to look after them. Children like Nadia – supported by Family member METAdrasi – who was able to go to live with her uncle in Germany after all her immediate family died in a shipwreck.

The UK Government has refused to protect this agreement by enshrining it in the Brexit bill. This will lead to children stranded in overcrowded camps or choosing to make unsafe journeys exposed to traffickers and precarious transit, hiding in lorries or crossing in unseaworthy boats, rather than being given a legal safe passage to be united with their family.

We believe that it is profoundly important that the UK does not become a country that keeps children apart from their families.

A childhood on the move puts children at a greater risk of poverty, lack of education, trafficking, exploitation, sexual abuse and more. On the other hand, children with family care are more likely to know love, wellbeing, healthy development and have a strong start in life.

We are currently campaigning for children in these situations, with our Childhood On The Move campaign. Thousands of these children are currently living in Greece alone.

Calling for change

The UK Government has already ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In it, they agreed to uphold the importance of family, giving the institution of family “the necessary protection and assistance”.

We call on the UK Government to keep to this commitment by enshrining in law the right for unaccompanied child refugees to be united with their family in Europe.

To learn more about the situation faced by children on the move, visit our Childhood On The Move campaign hub today, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.