Europe-wide failure to anticipate and tackle "colossal" migration crisis - Conclusions and recommendations

Source : Parlement britannique

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Family reunion and unaccompanied child migrants

We accept the Government’s concern that allowing unaccompanied children to join family members already in the UK might create a “pull factor”, resulting in more vulnerable young people making dangerous journeys to try to reach the UK. We appreciate that these are sensitive and complex matters and that proper account needs to be taken of the legal and safeguarding requirements in the countries where unaccompanied children are currently located. We also acknowledge that some progress is being made on this. However, we agree with the Bishop of Durham that the 157 unaccompanied children already in Calais who have family members in the UK “should already have arrived” in the UK. The Government should, as a one-off action, accept all of these children into the UK now.

Large numbers of women and child migrants are making dangerous illegal journeys across the Mediterranean, in the hope of being reunited with family members in the EU. We welcome the UK Government’s recent announcement of schemes to resettle unaccompanied children, both from the Middle East and North Africa, and some who have already reached Europe. However, it is important that the local authorities who are required to take responsibility for unaccompanied refugee children are properly funded and supported to take on this additional burden, particularly given the high concentration of arrivals in a very small number of locations, particularly in Kent and the Heathrow airport area. The Government should include steps to ensure the fair distribution of unaccompanied children across local authorities as part of the action we have called for in relation to dispersal of asylum-seekers.

Family reunion of migrants has been shown to have benefits in terms of integration and support networks, in addition to the human rights requirements of allowing families to be together, and there is clear scope for further measures to facilitate women and children joining husbands, fathers and other male relatives who have reached the UK. We recommend that the UK Government increase its use of family reunion visas for refugee asylum cases, to make it easier for applications to be made in countries of origin and to help avoid women and children feeling obliged to attempt high-risk and illegal travel to Europe in order to be reunited with male relatives. We also recommend that the UK broaden the scope of family reunion rules, and work with expert NGOs to make it easier (including through provision of legal aid) and speedier for applications for family reunion visas to be made, particularly in countries of origin or their vicinity.

Missing child migrants

Europol estimates that there are 85,000 unaccompanied minors amongst the migrant population in the EU. We were astonished to hear reports that large numbers of these children go missing from reception centres shortly after arrival and that they then face abuse, sexual assault and discrimination. At least 10,000 minors are estimated to have gone missing since arriving in Europe. EU countries must do more to protect these highly vulnerable young people. The Government has announced a £10 million Refugee Children Fund for vulnerable children in the EU. This should be used, and if necessary augmented, to ensure that effective support and protection are provided, and that this extremely serious problem is properly addressed. »

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