Why are refugee children travelling alone ?

Source : UNICEF UK

Date : 28 juin 2016

« Since launching our campaign to reunite unaccompanied children with their family in the UK, we have been asked why these children are travelling alone to Europe in the first place. Children who have made the dangerous journey in search of safety explain why :

Children have no one left. Family and friends have been killed and they fear they will be next

In Syria, the conflict is into its sixth year. Bilal, who has only recently been reunited which his brother in the UK after spending seven months in the Calais camp said, “the bracelet I wear belonged to a friend who was shot by the regime four years ago. I took it from him – from his body – and have worn it every day since then.”

Staying is more dangerous than leaving

As bombs fall in streets on children’s houses and schools, it safer for children to leave. Hasan, a young refugee, said, “on the journey, I spoke to my family once a month. I think they were happier that I left Syria. Any mistake in Syria might result in death.”

Children are forced to fight in the army and armed groups

“Soldiers entered people homes and forced them to join the army,” said Syrian refugee, Waheen. “They often chose the youngest child”. This is wrong, and children are fleeing to escape forced recruitment.

Families could not leave together

The cost of leaving simply means families can’t escape together. Even when they have left together, families have become separated. Hasan said “I wish they [my family] could escape and come here but they aren’t allowed to leave and they don’t have any money to pay the smugglers. It is too expensive to pay for boats. My parents and brothers are seven people in total. There are seven of my family so it would cost £7,000. And there’s nothing I can do. The thing I miss the most is my family.”

Families are being forced to let their children go because it’s not safe for them to stay at home. For some of these children, if they can get to Europe they have family waiting for them. However, right now there is no legal or safe way for these children to escape to Europe. Instead they must make dangerous journeys by land or sea putting their lives at risk in the hands of smugglers – on boats, trucks or trains. We can change this, and make sure that unaccompanied refugee children are reunited with their families. »

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