UK White Paper on Immigration is a missed opportunity to help refugee and migrant children

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Responding to the White Paper on Immigration published today, Alastair Harper, Head of Advocacy at Unicef UK, said:

 “Today’s White Paper on Immigration has been a missed opportunity to address the urgent issue of family reunion for refugee and migrant children. In its White Paper the Government describes its existing approach to family reunion as comprehensive, but this is far from the truth. Every day the Government fails to make this simple change to the law, more children continue to risk everything in desperate attempts to reach the safety of their loved ones here in the UK.

“Currently, there are thousands of children in the refugee and migrant camps across Europe, having fled conflict and persecution hoping to reach family in the UK. They are forging an existence in cramped, makeshift shelters, surrounded by sewage and experiencing psychological distress. Some are even living in broken shipping containers.

While the UK Government has provided for refugee children living in camps overseas, children are still undertaking dangerous journeys to reach safety in the UK. Unicef UK calls on the Government to amend its Immigration Rules, extending the definition of family to ensure vulnerable children can reach their family in the UK.”

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030,

Morwenna Darby, 0207 375 6124,

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

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