Government looking again at problem of lone migrant children


The Government is "looking at whether we can do more" in relation to unaccompanied children amid Europe's migrant crisis, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has said.

Ms Greening told Sky News's Murnaghan programme: "We've steadily evolved our approach as this crisis has evolved, we've been right at the forefront frankly of helping children who've been affected by this crisis and will continue to look at how we can do that over the coming days and weeks."

David Cameron earlier told the Commons that on the issue of unaccompanied children the Government would "look very carefully at this", adding that "we're looking at the 3,000 in good faith"

Ministers have faced calls led by the charity Save the Children for 3,000 refugee children living alone in Europe to be resettled in the UK. The campaign has also been backed by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

Ms Greening rejected accusations the Government was not doing enough to tackle the wider migration crisis.

She said: "I thoroughly reject that. No country in Europe has done more to help Syrian refugees. The UK has been there since day one. Worldwide we're the second biggest bilateral donor helping refugees on the ground and our focus has very much been on meeting refugees' first choice....The refugees that I talk to want to stay close to home, they want to stay in the region that they are familiar with."

Ms Greening said coming to Europe was a "last resort, not a first resort" for many refugees.

She added: "We've said that over the course of this Parliament we will resettle 20,000 refugees. We're going to do that in a safe, and measured and a managed way, working with UN agencies taking them directly from the region, it means we can focus on the most vulnerable people including children who otherwise would have no chance to make the kind of journey that we've seen other refugees make.

"And of course we've been helping on the ground in Europe too, so the UK has been working with the UNHCR on registering migrants as they arrive."

She said: "So we are playing our role, we are looking at whether we can do more in relation to...unaccompanied children because children have always been from day one at the heart of our response in the region."

Earlier this month a committee of MPs, the International Development Committee said Britain should welcome thousands of lone children from Europe on top of the Syrian refugee resettlement programme.

Asked if there could be a Government announcement, Mr Farron told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics: "I very strongly hope so."

He added: "I hope he (Mr Cameron) is moving in that direction, and it looks like there may be some signs that he is. I think it the right thing to do on a humanitarian level."

Mr Farron went on: "I do say that it's the least it can do, the least the Government can do."

He added: "There's a real sense that the UK is not engaging with the refugee crisis in Europe at all. I'm not saying we should open our borders completely, but I think that it is very, very strange that at a time that David Cameron is trying to make a case for Britain in Europe, he's not not making much of a case for Britain with the rest of Europe."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for Britain to join a pan-European effort to help ease the migrant crisis as he visited camps in northern France to see the squalid conditions people are living in after fleeing war, poverty and persecution.