Government creates uncertainty for children separated from their families

By Kate Pounds

On 8 January, the week before the charity gala for Asylum Welcome at the North Wall Arts Centre, the Conservative majority in the House of Commons voted 352 to 248 to remove protection for unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK from the EU Withdrawal Bill. The Bill then went to the House of Lords, where the amendment was reinstated.

However, the following week, on Tuesday January 21, the Commons voted 342 to 254 in favour of removing it again. The bill has now passed into law.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is reported in the Metro to have said protection for children in this situation will be negotiated with the EU at a later date, but the Government has not revealed any information about when and how this will be done.

Mina Fazel, 48, who has worked in refugee mental health for many years at Oxford University, said “The progressive and systematic removal of the rights of these most vulnerable children is of extreme concern. These actions place these children at risk of exposure to modern slavery, immigration detention and a whole host of other experiences that place their normal development at risk. These are breaches to basic human rights and should be addressed urgently.”

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