The UK will take in more refugee children from Syria and other conflict zones, the Home Office has announced, but the Government will not act on calls to resettle 3,000 children living unaccompanied in Europe.
In an apparent compromise, Britain will work with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to bring unaccompanied refugee children to the UK from Syria and other war-torn regions.
Officials said the exact numbers of refugee children to be resettled in the UK would be assessed by UNHCR experts working in Syria and elsewhere, but confirmed that new arrivals would be additional to the 20,000 Syrian refugees the Government has pledged to take in by 2020.
Ministers had said this week that they were “considering” calls to take in some of the thousands of unaccompanied refugee children currently in Europe, who charities say are especially vulnerable to exploitation and traffickers.
However, the new pledge appears to extinguish any prospect of the UK taking in refugees from Europe. Instead, a new £10 million fund will be established to support migrant and refugee children in Europe.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire said the “vast majority” of refugees were “better served staying in the region so they can be reunited with surviving family members”.
“So we have asked the UNHCR to identify the exceptional cases where a child’s best interests are served by resettlement to the UK and help us to bring them here,” he said.