Responding to the government at Home Office Questions to Unicef UK’s family reunification campaign, Mark Devlin, Chief Operating Officer at Unicef UK, said:
“Today’s response from the UK Government does not go far enough.
“Unicef UK - along with over 100,000 members of the public and a cross-party coalition of MPs - has been calling on the UK Government to meet their promise of speeding up family reunion. For example, it would only take an extra 10 immigration officials working on the issue to ensure all the eligible children in Calais can be living safely with their families by September.
“While we are glad that the Government is acknowledging the urgency of the situation for these vulnerable children, the camps in Calais are at breaking point. Every day more and more people arrive in the camps, making it easier for children to go missing, often at the hands of traffickers.
“The Government says it has increased the speed at which it is processing these claims, but that is not the reality on the ground for the majority of children. Current estimates from NGOs working in Calais say that at the current rate, it will take over a year to process just the 150 cases we already know about. A year is a long time in a child's life.
“We welcome the Government’s sentiment that the numbers of children being brought to the UK to be with their families will be increasing, and that there will be more of these cases processed within two weeks or less. We believe the Home Office will need to commit more resources to make this a reality.”
Notes for editors:
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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