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David Simmonds : who’s going to pay to help child refugees ?

Publié le 14-09-2016

Source : The Guardian

Auteur : Amelia Gentleman

«  The chair of the LGA’s asylum, refugee and migration task group says councils need more funding if they are to house unaccompanied children.

Persuading councils to accommodate more refugees is a delicate art, but it is one that David Simmonds – who has overseen a successful drive to get councils to find homes for 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees – has begun to master.

Earlier this month the government announced that homes had been found for all the Syrian refugees the UK had committed to house, and about 2,800 had arrived. Simmonds, who chairs the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration task group, describes this (with understated satisfaction) as a “good achievement” and “one of the success stories”.

But he is doubtful about whether a parallel commitment to give sanctuary to an unspecified number of unaccompanied refugee children can be achieved with the same speed, unless the government allocates more money to help councils across the UK to meet the “stonkingly huge” cost of caring for them.

As deputy leader of Hillingdon council, in west London, since 2002, the 40-year-old Conservative councillor has had plenty of experience of accommodating lone refugee children, who, even before the start of the refugee crisis last year, often arrived at Heathrow, in his area. In his job with the LGA’s asylum taskforce, he has watched the numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children double to 4,000 last year, and seen some councils (particularly Kent, with its port at Dover) struggle to cope.

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