Sir Julian Brazier, Member of Parliament for Canterbury and Whitstable, has today (16th February 2017) issued a statement on the refugee situation in Europe and the Middle East.
“The debate surrounding the so-called “Dubs II” amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill has generated some controversy and a great deal of interest. I am concerned about refugees, whatever part of the world they end up in, and last year I was fortunate enough to make another visit to Lebanon - a fragile country which has taken in and supported well over a million refugees from neighbouring Syria. I met our Department for International Development (DFID) team out there and felt very proud that Britain is by far the largest donor, after the US, to assisting Syrian refugees in the region. On this visit, I was also privileged to visit one of the most successful welfare organisation in Lebanon, at one of their clinics and was impressed by the work their (mostly unpaid) doctors and staff are doing.
During the House of Lords debates on the ‘Dubs II’ amendment, the government made it clear that commitments to the safeguarding of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children are best outlined in the comprehensive strategy due to be published this year. This was the right decision, I believe - we must be very careful not to inadvertently incentivise families to risk entrusting their children to people traffickers in order to get them to Europe. I do not want to see yet more children exposed to the dangers of the seas and criminal gangs, or the squalor and exploitation of the Calais Jungle. It is also a fact that most of the people who come through France to places like Calais are not, in fact child refugees but adult economic migrants.
By supporting hundreds of thousands of children and other vulnerable refugees in the countries neighbouring Syria, like Lebanon, we are helping to alleviate the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Indeed, our total aid package to the camps and informal settlements in Lebanon and Jordan, which house nearly three million people, is almost as much as the rest of Europe put together. In cases where the advice of the UNHCR is that a child’s needs should be met by resettlement here in the UK, we will continue to ensure that vulnerable children, including orphans, are a priority. The Government has already established a new resettlement scheme to help children at risk in the Middle East and North Africa, which will see up to 3,000 vulnerable children relocated to the UK over the next four years. This is in addition to the 20,000 Syrian refugees the Government has agreed to resettle under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme. Over 4,500 Syrian children have already come, many of them children – and local authorities are making them welcome.”