Pressure mounting to take in child refugees

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion
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PRESSURE is mounting on the Government to take in 3,000 child refugees abandoned in Europe as a crucial Commons vote looms.

In one of the most significant defeats for David Cameron so far the House of Lords voted in favour of giving the children new homes in the UK back in March. The Government has said it would prefer to take children directly from war-torn regions instead.

Ahead of the next vote on the matter in the Commons, a cross-party group of MPs have made the case that unaccompanied refugees are at risk of exploitation without UK help.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, Shadow Minister for Preventing Abuse and Domestic Violence, said: “The number of unaccompanied children that are now making these treacherous journeys to Europe is an incredibly serious and complex issue.

“This is a small, but significant amendment that has the potential to provide safety and stability to children for whom conflicts in their home countries are far beyond their comprehension, let alone their control.”

The debate was led by Conservative MP David Burrowes, the same Tory back-bencher who led the rebellion to change Sunday Trading laws. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has long argued that the Government must take in the children, and Ms Champion said there must be more the UK can do to help “vulnerable refugees fleeing violence, abuse and oppression.”

The Labour politician said: “At every stage the Government have been reluctant to respond. The Government must recognize and respond to public and Parliamentary pressure, and support unaccompanied children in Europe.”

The Labour amendment, tabled by Lord Dubs, passed in the Lords by 100 votes in March and will return to the Commons this spring. Lord Dubs was a child refugee who came to Britain on the Kindertransport project in the 1930s.