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Asylum: Greek Islands

Home Office written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to facilitate the resettlement of (a) vulnerable children and (b) unaccompanied minors from Greek islands.

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department is in discussion with Greek authorities on additional resettlement places from Greece for (a) unaccompanied minors and (b) migrant children in families.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The UK is at the forefront in protecting children affected by the migration crisis. We remain absolutely committed to transferring the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (Dubs Amendment) as soon as possible. We have been making further progress with participating States, Greece, France, and Italy, to transfer more eligible children to move closer to the commitment to transfer 480 children.

In keeping with our commitments to ensure that the vulnerable children we have transferred from Greece, France and Italy to the UK under section 67 will have everything they need to be able to start a new life in the UK, we introduced a new form of leave, section 67 leave, in July 2018. Individuals who receive section 67 leave will have the right to study, work, access public funds and healthcare and apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Section 67 is one of a number of schemes that offer a safe and legal route to the UK for the most vulnerable refugees. In total, the UK provided protection to over 7,000 children in the year ending June 2019, and 39,500 since the start of 2010, and in every year since 2016, the UK resettled more refugees from out-side Europe than any other EU member state. In the year ending June 2019 the UK received 3,496 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. In 2018, the UK received 15% of all asylum claims from unaccompanied children in the EU, representing the third highest intake country.

Until the UK leaves the EU, we remain fully committed to the timely and efficient operation of the Dublin III Regulation including the provisions determining responsibility for examining the claims of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Officials continue to work closely with Member States, including partners in Greece, to ensure the safe transfer of children under this Regulation.

Under Section 17 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, we are committed to seek to negotiate an agreement with the EU allowing for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, where it is in their best interests, once we leave the EU. We are ready to engage with the EU and with Member States on this matter and will endeavour to negotiate such an agreement as soon as possible.

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