20 APR 2016

MP demands fairness for Kent on Europe's unaccompanied children

'National Dispersal System is urgently needed' says Helen Grant

In a Commons debate about 'Unaccompanied Children' yesterday the MP for Maidstone & The Weald intervened to highlight the tremendous pressure facing children's specialist services in the County of Kent.

For many months now there has been a steady influx of refugees and asylum seekers from Europe and accommodation for children and younger people is already reaching its limits.

With the advent of the Lords proposed clause 69 amendment to The Immigration Bill 2015-16, which calls for the establishment of a scheme to relocate to the UK a further 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe, Kent will face unprecedented further demands unless something is done urgently;

Helen Grant says there should be a fairer system. In the debate she said 'Kent County Council has an overwhelming caseload of unaccompanied, vulnerable and needy children for whom to care. Does he [David Burrowes MP – leading the debate] agree that not enough local authorities will help out and take those children identified by Kent and that much more co-operation is needed between local authorities'.

Helen believes that Britain should be doing something to help these very vulnerable children but, whatever the outcome of the Immigration Bill, a National Dispersal System should be introduced to ensure the needs of further incoming people are supported evenly across the country.

Mrs Grant is a member of the International Development Select Committee and a Trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation. In her work she has encountered great concerns for the welfare of a very significant number of stranded children who have fled from war torn regimes in the Middle east and Northern Africa. According to the EU's criminal intelligence agency, Europol, at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared after having arrived in Europe. Many are feared to have been exploited by pan-European criminal gangs and trafficked to unknown destinations to be sexually abused and used as slaves.

Following the yesterday's debate Helen said 'these children may also succumb to the horrors of trafficking unless we act quickly. I will be meeting with Minister James Brokenshire tomorrow (20th April) to see what more can be done'.

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