Go to STV News

Children in Calais camps should be brought into UK, MPs say

The Home Affairs Committee said 157 unaccompanied children should be accepted into the UK.

By STV News

Published 03 Aug 2016.

Dozens of children with relatives in Britain should be brought to the country from Calais migrant camps, a committee of MPs has said.

MPs said 157 unaccompanied youngsters who have family members in the UK "should already have arrived".

The Commons Home Affairs Committee said in a report: "The Government should, as a one-off action, accept all of these children into the UK now."

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, added that it was "unacceptable" that the children have still not been brought to the UK.

Evidence from experts and volunteers said the conditions in migrant camps are "absolutely atrocious" and "directly causing suffering and ill health for many residents", the report said.

There are many people in the camps entitled to humanitarian protection or refugee status, including some who should have their claims processed in the UK, according to the committee.

It concluded: "We are yet to see any evidence of a strategy designed to deliver a long-term solution to the presence of these camps."

The report also recommended that the UK Government increase its use of family reunion visas for refugee asylum cases to make it easier for applications to be made in countries of origin and to help avoid women and children "feeling obliged to attempt high-risk and illegal travel to Europe in order to be reunited with male relatives".

The committee shared the view that the UK has "the capacity to fulfil its moral obligation to accept more refugees fleeing war zones and catastrophes, as well as asylum-seekers".

Alex Fraser, of the British Red Cross, welcomed the call to do more to reunite refugee families.

He added: "It is unacceptable that vulnerable children, who have been through more trauma than most adults could imagine, are stuck in camps when they have family here in the UK who could be looking after them."

Susan Monroe, chief executive of Freedom From Torture, said: "In keeping with her vision of this country as a 'beacon of hope' for those most in need, the Prime Minister (Theresa May) should heed today's call by parliamentarians for the UK to meet its moral obligation by helping a greater share of asylum seekers and refugees to find safety in this country."