Refugees: Families

Home Office written question – answered on 21st March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answers by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 9 February (HL Deb cols 1860–1861) about unaccompanied child refugees, what is their response to the briefing note by the Refugee Council, Oxfam UK, the British Red Cross and Amnesty International UK Together again: Reuniting refugee families in safety – what the UK can do.

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answers by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 9 February (HL Deb cols 1860–1861) about unaccompanied child refugees, what is their response to UNICEF UK’s examination of the risks facing refugee and migrant children crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy in their report A deadly journey for children: The central Mediterranean route.

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answers by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 9 February (HL Deb cols 1860–1861) about unaccompanied child refugees, what is their response to the statement by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner published on 22 February, in particular with respect to his call to address the strain on the Dublin III system; and when they intend to consult him on his assessment of the likely impact of any changes on the scale of trafficking of unaccompanied children.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

We support the principle of family unity and have several routes for families to be reunited safely. Our family reunion policy allows a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18 of those granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK to join them here, if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country. We have granted around 23,000 family reunion visas over the last five years. The Government is also fully committed to the timely and efficient operation of the Dublin Regulation, including the family reunification provisions.

The Government works upstream with the aim to stem flows from Libya to Italy. The UK is contributing to the EU’s Operation Sophia, which to date has successfully saved over 31,000 lives in the Central Mediterranean. The UK government is providing a £7.5 million package of direct emergency humanitarian assistance – to tackle people smuggling, improve conditions in detention centres and support migrants and asylum seekers, including children, transiting through Libya.

We are working internationally to help prevent vulnerable people from becoming victims of modern-slavery and other forms of exploitation. The Prime Minister (PM) pledged £30m of official development assistance to protect and support victims of trafficking as well saving lives and offering long term solutions to refugees and migrants rescued at sea. The PM Taskforce is also making progress bringing the collective weight of Government to bear. We are already seeing progress in intelligence gathering and are developing our international strategy to tackle the threat overseas and deepen law enforcement cooperation. This will enable us to investigate, prosecute and otherwise disrupt the activity of slave-drivers and traffickers of human beings. We also work closely with Europol and Eurojust to facilitate cross-border operations and joint investigations with European law enforcement agencies. We will continue to engage closely with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner on the issues of human trafficking and exploitation.

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