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British MPs vote against accepting 3,000 child refugees Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

British MPs vote against accepting 3,000 child refugees

Around 95,000 unaccompanied children are thought to have claimed asylum in Europe in 2015 [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 April, 2016

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A plan to bring 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children to the UK from refugee camps across Europe was voted down by British MPs on Monday.

British MPs have rejected a plan to bring 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian minors from European refugee camps to the UK.

The plan, introduced in an amendment to the Immigration Bill, was voted down by just 18 votes.

Only a small number of Consevative MPs voted in favour of the bill.

The opposition Labour Party said the fight would go on and they were determined to force the government to accept child refugees.

Kirsty McNeill, advocacy and campaigns director at Save The Children, slammed the decision as "deeply disappointing".

"Tonight, across Europe, thousands of these children are alone and frightened as they go to sleep on roadsides, in police cells and in informal camps," she said in a statement.

"This problem isn't going away, it is getting worse. The government has not yet responded to the groundswell of public support and MPs of all parties who have called for the UK to offer safety to lone children in Europe."

The Home Office claimed the plan would create a 'pull factor' that would encourage more people traffickers to send children on the dangerous journey to Europe.

British ministers, however, agreed instead to take in 3,000 of the most vulnerable children from camps in conflict zones in Syria.

The scheme is aimed at children deemed at risk of child labour, forced marriage and other forms of abuse or exploitation.

Tonight, across Europe, thousands of these children are alone and frightened as they go to sleep on roadsides, in police cells and in informal camps.
- Kirsty McNeill

Around 95,000 unaccompanied child refugees are thought to have applied for asylum in Europe in 2015.

The EU's criminal intelligence agency, Europol, confirmed in early 2016 that 10,000 children had vanished after landing on European soil. The agency said it fears that many had been snatched by criminal syndicates.

The commitment is in addition to the UK's pledge to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from camps on Syria's borders by 2020.

So far, more than a thousand - half of them children - have arrived.

Britain has committed £2.3 billion ($3.3 billion) to helping refugees in Syria and the region, but has opted out of European Union quotas for taking migrants and dispersing them around the 28-nation bloc.

The UK government also announced it would be offering 75 expert personnel to help with the processing and administration of migrants in reception areas in Greece, as part of an EU deal with Turkey.

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