Holding Hands: Campaign for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children. Exeter City of Sanctuary is campaigning for unaccompanied child asylum seekers.We are seeking discussions with Devon County Council and Children’s Services in Exeter as regards what plans they have in place to offer sanctuary and support to some of these children. In its recent report the EU Home Affairs Select-Committee (House of Lords) argued that unaccompanied children seeking asylum were being systematically let down by the EU and its Member States, including the UK .
With plans being made to bulldoze the camp at Calais a new urgency has been added for these vulnerable lone children. It is crucial that LAs and Children’s Services (Exeter) advertise the need for foster parents to come forward- if this is needed. ExCoS would wish to offer it’s support.
The campaign is starting locally in Exeter. We aim to raise awareness among the Exeter community of the needs of these vulnerable children. As local authority’s hold legal responsibility for the care of unaccompanied minors in UK we will be contacting Devon County Council and Children’s Services.
If you are interested in being part of our campaign and joining our campaigns group, then please register your interest by emailing Exeter City of Sanctuary: [email protected]
Background Info :Unaccompanied Minors
The term ‘Unccompanied Asylum Seeking Children’ (UASC) is the official jargon used to refer to children under-18 years who have arrived in Britain and Europe without family to care for them. Fleeing war, poverty and torture many of these children have undertaken long and hazardous journeys by sea and land on their own. Some children, like our evacuees in the last war, were sent away by their families in hopes of keeping them safe. Other children have fallen into the hands of traffickers, and are and have been exploited miserably. Regardless of the chain of events that have led these children to our shores – they are all vulnerable and in need of a helping hand.
There are different routes by which UASC arrive, or might arrive, in the UK:
- Family Reunification: Currently almost 1,000 unaccompanied minors are stranded and living in desperate conditions in Calais, and other makeshift camps in the north of France. These lack acceptable basic shelter or the protection, information and services the children desperately need. Several hundred of these children have been identified as eligible for resettlement in UK on family reunification grounds under the EU Dublin 111 regulation. (Safe Passage; Alf Dubs) Less than 40 children have been transferred.
- Immigration Act 2016: In May Parliament passed the new Immigration Act 2016 which includes provisions (Dubs Amendment) for unaccompanied child refugees and asylum seekers in Europe (Northern France, Greece and Italy) to be resettled in UK. None have as yet been transferred to UK.
- Presenting alone at UK ports etc.: In the face of official barriers or inaction increasing numbers of children attempt to reach the UK through their own efforts; in lorries, through smugglers etc. On arrival they apply for asylum and are accomodated by the Local Authority, who has legal responsibility for their care. Earlier this year Kent Council reported that they have been overwhelmed by the numbers of UASC arriving in their area and now in their care. They have sought the help of other LAs to share the burden collectively.
For more details about our campaign and for ongoing updates, please see our Campaigning Section here