UN children’s agency ‘deeply concerned’ by planned UK asylum law

Pro-refugee demonstration
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.The United Nations’ children’s agency on Friday joined critics of a proposed British law aimed at stopping migrants arriving by small boats, saying it was “deeply concerned” about its impact on minors.

Jon Sparkes, head of United Nations Children’s Fund in the UK, said the bill could deny children and families the chance to seek safety:

For almost all children fleeing conflict and persecution there is no safe and legal route into the UK.

The bill was presented on Tuesday by PM Rishi Sunak’s Tory government. It would ban people who have arrived in the country illegally from seeking asylum. Sparkes said:

It is not clear how this bill will be compatible with existing UK government duties to act in the best interests of the child, and it is questionable whether the removal of a child to a third country, following a perilous journey to the UK, could ever be in their best interest.

Defending children’s rights

Sparkes called on the British government:

to urgently clarify how it intends to ensure the safety and well-being of children with this bill, and how it will respect its obligations regarding the defence of children’s rights.

Read on...

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45,000 migrants arrived in the UK last year by crossing the English Channel on small boats.

According to official figures, 17% of people who took the Channel route to the UK since 2018 are children and minors. Sparks said:

UNICEF UK maintains that the creation of safe and legal routes must be part of any compassionate and effective response to reducing the use of unsafe routes

Britain has obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It must avoid putting people at risk of torture or other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment. The UK’s own 1998 Human Rights Act also offers asylum-seekers various protections.

In a note to MPs at the beginning of the 66-page bill, home secretary Suella Braverman herself acknowledged that she was “unable” to assess that its provisions are compatible with the ECHR.

Now, yet again, the Tories face censure for their inhumane policies towards desperate people – this time, children.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Alisdare Hickson, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY 2.0.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse 

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