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Refugees: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many unaccompanied child refugees have been resettled in the UK from elsewhere in Europe under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 in (a) total and (b) in (i) 2016, (ii) 2017, (iii) 2018, (iv) 2019 and (v) 2020 to date.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reasons the Government has not yet fulfilled its duty under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 to relocate 480 unaccompanied child refugees to the UK from elsewhere in Europe.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when her Department plans to fulfil the UK's duty under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 to relocate 480 unaccompanied child refugees to the UK from elsewhere in Europe.

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

The Government remains fully committed to relocating the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment) as soon as possible. Over 220 children were transferred to the UK under section 67 when the Calais camp was cleared in late 2016. Since then we have been making further progress with participating States, France, Greece and Italy, to refer more eligible children to move closer to achieving this commitment. We will publish further data on the transfers once we have fulfilled this commitment.

Meeting our obligations under section 67 is a complex task which has involved negotiating separate referral and transfer arrangements with each of the three participating States. These arrangements are crucial to the process and must operate within the confines of the participating States’ domestic legislation and policy.

The transfer of children is also dependent on the availability of appropriate local authority care placements. The Government is very grateful to local authorities who have offered placements for these children as well as those who continue to look after large numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). The availability of placements for children arriving under section 67 has been affected by two issues. Firstly, by the high numbers of UASC who have arrived in the UK spontaneously in recent years – for example, in 2018, the UK received 3,063 asylum claims from unaccompanied children. This follows previous years which have seen similarly high numbers of unaccompanied children arriving in the UK – 3,254 in 2015, 3,290 in 2016 and 2,401 in 2017. According to the latest Department for Education statistics, there are more than 5,000 UASC in English local authorities alone – the highest figure in at least 10 years. Secondly, during this period, there has been increasing numbers of resident looked-after children being taken into local authority care, which has placed further pressure on local authorities.

Against this background, local authorities have continued to provide offers and the Government has made good progress towards meeting its obligations under section 67.

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