Responding to yesterday’s announcement on unaccompanied children in Europe, Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director at Unicef UK said:

5 May 2016 - “The Government’s decision to welcome to the UK some unaccompanied children from Greece, Italy and France is a vital step towards urgently-need protection for the most vulnerable. Unicef UK urges the Government to now turn this positive promise into reality - the many thousands of refugee children stranded in terrible situations in Europe have already waited long enough.

"Some children, especially those in Calais, are separated from family members who are waiting for them in the UK. The UK Government has repeatedly stated its commitment to speeding up family reunion cases under the existing EU Dublin procedures. This must now translate to urgent action so children's lives are not left in limbo any longer. Unicef UK believes there are simple steps that must be taken immediately, such as providing more personnel to speed up the processing of family reunion cases. 

“For other children alone in Europe, without clear family links, resettlement to the UK may simply be the option that is in their best interests to keep them safe. As the UK Government consults on its next steps, it must recognise the importance of supporting unaccompanied children who are at greatest risk of trafficking, abuse and exploitation, regardless of when they arrived in Europe. For all children fleeing war, safe and legal routes must be the priority. For all decisions about children’s lives, their best interests and protecting their long-term future, must always come first.” 

- ENDS - 

For further information please contact:

Unicef UK Press Office +44 (0)20 7375 6030 media@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk