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UK urged to transfer child refugees from freezing Europe camps

Publié le 12-01-2017

Source : www.theguardian.com

Auteur : Jessica Elgot

« Calls for children housed in flimsy tents to be transferred as soon as possible as temperatures plummet across continent

The British government has been urged to step up efforts to transfer lone child refugees from other parts of Europe, as temperatures plunged below freezing across the south of the continent.

Thousands of refugees are still housed in flimsy tents, without proper flooring, at risk of freezing to death from the arctic blast across Europe that has brought temperatures to -15C (5F) in Greece and as low as -20C in Serbia and Hungary.

The Home Office minister Lady Williams said this week that although the UK had taken hundreds of child refugees after the dismantling of the Calais jungle camp, none had been taken from elsewhere in Europe.

“The government has transferred more than 750 children to the UK in support of the French operation to clear the Calais camp under both the family reunification provisions of the Dublin regulation and the terms of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016,” she said, in answer to a question from the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Roberts.

“More eligible children will be transferred from Europe, in line with the terms of the Immigration Act, in the coming months and we will continue to meet our obligations under the Dublin regulation.”

The Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said the government must start transferring children from freezing camps in southern Europe as soon as possible.

“May might not have been prime minister when the government pledged to take in accompanied child refugees from across Europe, but she was home secretary and the consequence of her blatant disregard of this pledge can now be seen all too clearly on freezing streets in Greece and central Europe,” he said.

“No child should be subjected to the conditions these refugees are surviving in, yet May is happy to turn her back on what is a serious humanitarian crisis.”

Lone children with families already living in the UK have the right to come to Britain under the Dublin regulation, but those who do not have relatives here can be transferred under the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act, proposed by the Labour peer Lord Dubs, a former Kindertransport refugee.

That amendment committed the government to relocate lone child refugees in Europe “as soon as possible”. Ministers in David Cameron’s administration later briefed that several thousand were expected to come to Britain.

Last week, an Afghan refugee is reported to have died of hypothermia in Greece, and at least two Iraqis died in south-east Bulgaria, also believed to be linked to cold weather.

Speaking from Thessaloniki in northern Greece, Josie Naughton, the co-founder of Help Refugees, said : “We are devastated to hear reports of people losing their lives and coming close to hypothermia due to what we view as avoidable exposure to the freezing conditions in south-east Europe.

“We call on governments, large organisations and international agencies to reassess their bureaucratic procedures and spend money where it’s needed to prevent further loss of life.”

The charity said it was working to install heaters and flooring in hundreds of tents, as well as building warm accommodation in Filoxenia, where it houses 60 people, 40 of whom are children.

Greece’s migration policy minister, Yannis Mouzalas, said on Tuesday the conditions for refugees on the Greek islands were awful, with refugees housed in tents weighed down with snow. “Efforts are under way to move people as quickly as possible into hotels,” the island’s mayor, Spyros Galinos, told the Guardian on Wednesday.

“I’ve not seen so much snow, ever. Electricity supplies have been knocked out. There are villages that are isolated, without light or heating or running water. It’s difficult for everyone.”

Official figures released on Tuesday showed 5,491 refugees on Lesbos alone, with facilities built to house under half that number. About 1,000 are believed to be in tents. »

Voir en ligne : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...

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