“Hopelessly inadequate.” Why child refugees are still being failed

Three-year-old Khaled* is one of thousands of children who fled war in Syria and made the treacherous trip across the Mediterranean in search of a better life
Three-year-old Khaled* is one of thousands of children who fled war in Syria and made the treacherous trip across the Mediterranean in search of a better life

Yesterday we heard tragic reports that hundreds of people had drowned in the Mediterranean after the boats they were travelling in capsized.

This news comes almost exactly one year after hundreds of people lost their lives just outside of Libyan waters when their boat sank during the night.

Months before this incident one year ago, the EU had scaled back it search and rescue operation, leaving only a border patrol in Italian waters. By spring, the terrible impact of this decision was starting to become clear.

Every day, thousands of migrants were risking death in flimsy boats in the hope of reaching the safety of European shores. But without adequate search and rescue to come to their aid, many were not making it.

Restarting the rescue

As the death toll of desperate people attempting to cross the Mediterranean soared, thousands of people across the country came together in support of our Restart the Rescue campaign.

The campaign urgently called on politicians to demand the EU reinstated rescue operations to avoid further deaths.

The government listened, deploying its own search and rescue vessel, HMS Bulwark to patrol the Mediterranean. Within three months, it had saved over 4,000 lives.

A long road ahead

But one year on, as yesterday’s news shows, the crisis still shows no sign of abating. Recent estimates suggest there are 60 million people worldwide fleeing war and conflict. That’s more than at any time since World War II.

And the recent ‘one in, one out’ deal between the EU and Turkey is a worrying sign that governments are prioritising the security of their borders over saving lives. Children fleeing horrendous conflict, who’ve then made a perilous crossing from Turkey to Greece, face months of detainment, or even being sent back to Turkey.

Here in the UK, we’re still calling on the government to take in 3,000 children who’ve fled to Europe without their parents.

We made significant progress earlier this year when the government announced plans to speed up the process of reuniting children who already had family living here. But we’re going to keep pushing the government to take in 3,000 of these children regardless of their connections to the UK.

A global solution is needed

The crisis has divided political opinion but, for us, it’s simple: we do whatever it takes to save and protect children forced from their homes.

Every child should have an equal chance, no matter who or where they are. To make that happen we have to reach the children who are being left till last – and put them first.

This is a global problem and it needs a global solution. The world’s response so far has been hopelessly inadequate. It is time for that to end.

That’s why we believe it’s time for a New Deal for every child forced from their home.

Our New Deal for Refugees calls on world leaders to recognise that every child had the right to an education, to proper protection – to the very basics of life.

And 2016 presents a unique opportunity for the world to come together and make a stand for these children. At the World Humanitarian Summit next month and at a special session at the UN General Assembly in September, the world’s leaders must unite to deliver a new deal for child refugees that:

  1. guarantees no child misses out on their education when forced from their home
  2. ensures children’s rights are upheld and that countries abide by the laws designed to protect them
  3. ensures every country does what it can to support every child caught up in the refugee crisis.

You can join our campaign for every child forced from their home by pledging your support here.


2016 update

We’re launching our own rescue ship to save thousands of children’s lives.

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