I am grateful to constituents for recently contacting me about the amendment proposed by Lord Dubs calling for the Government to relocate 3,000 children from Europe.
I am glad that the Government is taking further action, including the establishment of a new resettlement scheme focused on the children at risk in the Middle East and North Africa which is supported by the UNHCR and which will see up to 3,000 people relocated to the UK over the next four years. It is my opinion that those young people remaining in Syria should be our priority, and therefore I very much welcome this Governments approach. It is also why I chose not to support Lord Dubs amendment, which would instead see the relocation of 3,000 children from Europe into the UK. Although I fully understand that the situation in Europe for refugees is far from ideal, it should be remembered that they are no longer in war stricken Syria, unlike those that will be relocated under the new Government scheme.
Furthermore, In Europe, the Department for International Development has committed £46 million to help support refugees and a £10 million fund focused specifically on the needs of children in Europe. This includes supporting reunification with family they may have been separated from and who are in other EU countries including the UK. Separately, 75 UK experts are being deployed to Greece to support more effective reception screening and processing of newly arrived migrants which will also help identify children and see that they are given appropriate support and care at the earliest opportunity.
I am proud of the contribution the UK is making and the good we have already done. While I understand your support for the Lord Dubs amendment, I do believe that the approach set out by the Government provides the best way to support our European partners and focus on the most vulnerable in the conflict region.
Further worthy of note should be the Government’s decision to reduce the extent of time that pregnant women can be held in detention, as well as the reduction in the general length of detention for those awaiting asylum applications to be processed, which will be included within the Immigration Bill, and is a move I very much welcome.
I would like to again thank constituents for contacting me about this important matter.