Prime Minister agrees to look again at plight of unaccompanied children in Calais following questions from Liam Byrne

by Liam Byrne | 21.03.16 | in: Constituency news, Families and children, Foreign Policy, Local campaigns, Local Issues, Local News, National news, Uncategorized, Westminster

**For Immediate Release**                                                                      Monday 21st March 2016

Prime Minister agrees to look again at plight of unaccompanied children in Calais following questions from Liam Byrne

The Prime Minister has today agreed to look again at the plight of unaccompanied children stranded in Calais following a question from Liam Byrne MP in the House of Commons.

The news comes as it has emerged that there are currently 150 unaccompanied children stranded in the Calais refugee camp with direct relatives in the UK.

Under the ‘Dublin 3’ treaty, a child stranded in France who has a direct relative in the UK should be able to claim asylum with the French authorities, and put in a ‘Take Charge’ request to the UK government to be reunited with their family.

In the last two years the UK Government has not accepted a single ‘Take Charge’ request.

In his question to the Prime Minister, Liam Byrne MP said: “I understand of the 150 take charge requests issued by the French government, not one has been agreed yet by the British government. Could the Prime Minister undertake to look at this and bring forward proposals to get the process working before any more children suffer any longer?”

In his response the Prime Minister said he was “happy to look at this. I discussed this with the French President. The rules are clear that if you have direct family here, you apply for asylum, you’ll come here. But we need to make sure that happens.”

Speaking after the exchange in the House of Commons, Liam Byrne said “I am pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed to look again at this situation. I have heard first hand from Syrian refugees in Birmingham that this system is not working well. It is absolutely essential that we reunite these children stranded alone in Calais with their families in Britain”.

Ends

Notes to editor:

1) You can watch the question from Liam Byrne MP here: https://www.facebook.com/LiamByrneHodgeHill/videos/vb.147894618876725/253625631636956/?type=2&theater

2) Full exchange between the Prime Minister and Liam Byrne MP in the House of Commons on Monday 21st May:

Liam Byrne MP:
Can I bring the PM back to unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Calais? Because he’s right to say that those children can apply to join parents here but I understand of the 150 take charge requests issues by the French government, not one has been agreed yet by the British government. Could the Prime Minister undertake to look at this and bring forward proposals to get the process working before any more children suffer any longer?”

The Prime Minister:
“I am happy to look at this. I discussed this with the French President. The rules are clear that if you have direct family here, you apply for asylum, you’ll come here. But we need to make sure that happens.”

3) A list of Parliamentary Questions tabled by Liam Byrne MP to the Home Secretary Theresa May with answers from the Immigration Minister James Brokenshire.

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Dublin III Regulation asylum process; what her proposals are for its reform and improvement; and if she will make a statement. (30243)

Answer:
James Brokenshire:

The Dublin Regulation is an important tool in our ability to manage asylum claims in the EU. The Government recognises that improvements can be made to the operation of the Regulation through simplification, greater flexibility and encouragement of maximum compliance. The underlying principles, however, such as claiming asylum in the first safe country, reuniting families where possible, prevention of secondary movement and assigning responsibility of a claim as soon as possible all remain sound. We are cooperating fully with the European Commission’s review of the Dublin Regulation and will continue to make the case these long established principles should continue to be the basis for any future regulation.

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many take charge requests under the Dublin III Regulation she has received in relation to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in France with either parents or alleged parents in the UK in the last 12 months. (30422)

Answer:
The Home Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will take steps to improve the speed and effectiveness of asylum processes for reuniting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in France with either parents or alleged parents in the UK. (30423)

Answer:
James Brokenshire:

The UK-France Joint Declaration of 20 August 2015 committed the UK to providing £3.6 million (or €5 million) per year for two years to help support a range of work to address the migrant situation in Calais. This includes increasing the frequency of communications campaigns involving British officials, French authorities and NGOs speaking to migrants in Calais to inform them of their rights to claim asylum in France and other matters such as family reunion. The Joint Declaration also committed the two governments to establishing a permanent official contact group focused on ensuring that the provisions of the Dublin III Regulation are used efficiently and effectively, including the provisions on family unity. As a result a Home Office official has recently been seconded to the Interior Ministry’s Dublin Unit in Paris in part to assist with the identification of potential requests for the UK to take charge of an asylum seeking child in France and to bring them into the Dublin Regulation procedure without delay.

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