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Sunday, 7 February 2016

Lib Dems to host unaccompanied children summit

An urgent summit to discuss unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have fled conflict, poverty and persecution will be chaired by leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron. The Liberal Democrats along with other parties have been pressing the Government to take 3,000 orphaned child refugees who have reached European shores.

The Lib Dems say that Tim Farron recognises that accepting these children will have an impact on public services and will require local authorities, charities and central government to work together to mitigate these challenges. This round table summit seeks to explore best working practice and establish how central government can act to support local authorities both financially and from an operational and logistical perspective.

The summit on February 10th will bring MPs from across the political spectrum like former Labour Cabinet Minister Yvette Cooper and former Green party leader Caroline Lucas who have campaigned with Liberal Democrats for the Government to do more to tackle the refugee crisis. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Local Government Association and Save the Children will join the summit to debate the best way forward.

Liberal Democrats say they hope that the round table summit will clarify some of the questions around how the United Kingdom can welcome these children. In the face of this crisis MPs and campaigners need to continue lobbying Government for a more open-hearted and fuller response.

Criticising the government response to the situation, Tim Farron said: "The government's response so far has been not only pathetic but I’d actually call it callous. They, on one hand say they are helping people while making sure headlines scream no children can come here." 

In stinging a rebuke of David Cameron, Mr Farron said: "The Prime Minister with these type of actions demeans his office and hurts our country. The Prime Minister’s cold hearted vision of Britain is not mine, and it’s not the vast majority of the public’s either."

Commenting on the cross-party summit Tim Farron said: I hope that by bringing all partner organisations and other MP’s of all parties who share my commitment on the issue together to lay out a more positive plan to help those unaccompanied children in Europe who have to be down in doorways night after night thousands of miles away from home."