Shabana has continued her longstanding work supporting vulnerable refugees by asking the government to give further help to unaccompanied child asylum seekers. A copy of her letter to the Government minister is below.
Dear Edward Timpson MP
I am writing to ask the Government to take further action in relation to unaccompanied child refugees.
In 2015 88,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU; over 3,000 of these applications were made in the UK. These children are hugely vulnerable to the actions of smugglers and human traffickers and I am deeply concerned that their well being is not being sufficiently protected by the current legislative framework.
I would like the Minister to consider the following two proposals to help protect unaccompanied child refugees.
1) Appointing independent guardians for all unaccompanied migrant children. These guardians should be independent, have statutory powers and be able to work across all areas that affect an unaccompanied child’s life. I do not believe the current framework of social workers, Independent Reviewing Officers and representatives from the Refugee Council’s children panel are able to suffiently take on this role. The Government clearly accepts that independent guardians can be valuable as they already exist to support children who have been trafficked. This role should be extended to all unaccompanied children, particularly given the high prevalence of unaccompanied children going missing from care.
2) Providing refugee children with family reunion rights. As it stands these children, who the Government accepts cannot return home for some time, will be entering an already stretched care system. Surely it would be far better for that child, and for the care system, to have their parents in the UK to support them. This would bring us into line with all other European Union (with the exception of Denmark) countries so would not markedly create a “pull” factor. The UK would simply be coming into line with other EU nations.
I look forward to your response.
Shabana Mahmood MP