Lily Caprani is available for interview and has just returned from visiting refugees and separated children in Macedonia, and the Greek border. 

Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director Unicef UK

Unicef UK welcomes the Government’s continuing efforts to safeguard and protect the rights of children fleeing war and persecution, and the Minister’s commitment today to do more to resettle children and their families at risk. However, by continuing to focus only on crisis-affected areas, the Government still isn’t addressing the needs of all children, including some of the most vulnerable of all who are trapped alone in Europe, despite having a legal right to join family in the UK. Safe and legal routes for these children must be a priority. 

The implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and border closures have made the situation even worse for unaccompanied children in Europe. The deal could push children and families into taking other more dangerous routes. Just yesterday, 500 people were reported drowned off the Libyan coast in crossing the Mediterranean Sea. 

We welcome the Government’s commitment to continue and intensify its efforts to expand and expedite the Dublin family reunion procedures across Europe, including in France, Greece and Italy. The 24 cases of children who have been accepted for transfer from France must be just the start, and we urge faster progress so that children from across Europe can be reunited with their families in the UK. 

We also believe that the UK must review its family reunion rules, widening these to allow unaccompanied and separated children to join extended family more easily, and applying the rules more flexibly. It is important that no cap is put on the number of children that may be eligible to join their families here. A child’s best interest should always be at the heart of any immigration decision. 

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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

For further information please contact:

Emily Poyser, Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)207 375 6154 or emilyp@unicef.org.uk

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