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UK Accused of Reneging on Vow to Reunite Child Refugees with Their Families

French authorities are telling unaccompanied children in France that they should give up hope of reuniting with their family in the UK, after the Home Office failed to offer help they promised they’d deliver.

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French authorities are telling unaccompanied children in France that they should give up hope of reuniting with their family in the UK, after the Home Office failed to offer help they promised they’d deliver.

The EU’s family reunification rules are due to expire at the end of the year when the Brexit transition period ends. The Home Office is being accused of reneging on its promises to reunite children with their families in the UK.

Children in a refugee camp near Dunkirk. [Image credit: Guardian]

A year ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament that he was “absolutely committed to ensuring that this country will continue to receive unaccompanied children” when Britain left the EU.

The Home Office pledged to reunite families who applied before the 31st December deadline. Charities said they received assurances that the UK would continue to reunite families in accepted cases in the year leading up to end of the Brexit transition period.

Sources have now revealed that “no proper arrangements” have been made by the UK for transfers under the family reunification Dublin agreement.

Minors at Risk

Following discussions in the French interior ministry last week, the French authorities began telling children and families that they could not apply to reunite with their family in the UK.

This move could affect minors in refugee camps in Greece who are eligible for family reunion, who may need to undertake dangerous journeys to reach the UK.

Beth Gardiner-Smith, who is the chief executive of the charity Safe Passage International, a charity which helps to transfer unaccompanied minors to the UK, had this to say about the situation:

“Unaccompanied child refugees in Europe have been left with nothing more than broken promises and fading hopes of reuniting with family in the UK. It is devastating that children desperate to reunite with their family have been turned away because of government inaction and a failure in international cooperation.”

Currently, Safe Passage is a aware of two families who have been told that they cannot apply for family reunification. The charity is also aware of 20 cases of unaccompanied children and five families who will are eligible to be transferred to the UK, but will be refused unless the situation changes.

Speaking about the situation, a Home Office spokesperson said:

“These claims are completely inaccurate. We are committed to continuing to process all family reunion cases, under the Dublin regulation, that entered the system before the end of the transition period. All EU member states can continue to make requests to the UK on the basis of family reunion and we will continue to assess and process these requests.

“We have to help more people directly from the affected regions and that is exactly what we are planning with our new firm and fair asylum system, which will welcome people through safe and legal routes.”

Protesters in January protesting against the the UK government voting against reuniting child refugees. [Image credit: Metro]

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