Bishop of Durham asks Government unaccompanied refugee children

On 5th June the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, received a written answer to two question from Baroness Williams of Trafford on refugee and asylum children.

800px-Official_portrait_of_The_Lord_Bishop_of_Durham_crop_2The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL4110 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have put in place to ensure that children can continue to be transferred to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL4111 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications for the UK of successful transfers of separated children from Greece to other countries in Europe under the European Commission’s relocation scheme for transfers of unaccompanied children.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 committed the Government to transfer 480 unaccompanied children from Greece, Italy and France to the UK; 478 have now successfully transferred.  We remain in contact with our counterparts in Italy to complete the transfer of the final two children as soon as it is safe to do so.  We welcome the pledges made by other countries to support Greece and stand ready to offer advice and guidance to those developing their own schemes.

The UK remains fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Dublin Regulation. Despite covid-19 restrictions, the UK is ready to accept transfers under Dublin whenever Member States are in a position to make those arrangements. Following close collaboration with the Greek Government, 50 asylum seekers arrived in the UK from Greece on 11 May in order to unite with family members who were already lawfully present in the UK.

Protecting vulnerable children is a key priority for the Government. In 2019, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any country in the EU and accounted for approximately 20% of all reported UASC claims made in the UK and the 27 EU Member States.