Your query is probably more common than you think; you might find the answer you’re looking for here.
Safe Passage works to provide unaccompanied child refugees in Europe with safe and legal routes to sanctuary across Europe. Wherever possible, we also support vulnerable adults.
We work in the UK, France, Greece and Italy. We have also reunited families from Bulgaria, Syria, Belgium and Sudan. We are planning to expand and make family reunification possible widely across Europe and the world.
We are always on the look out for volunteers to help us at Safe Passage. Please take a look at our page on what we need.
Until 27th February 2019 Safe Passage was a project of Citizens UK and so if you donated to Citizens UK your funds were kept separate for our work.
Now you can donate directly to Safe Passage International which is its own registered charity (1179608). If you’d like to make a donation (or to find out more about making one), please visit our Donations page.
Your donations will help fund Safe Passage work in France, Greece, Italy and the UK. This work includes identifying unaccompanied refugee children in Europe and their family in the UK, carrying out legal casework, establishing a system for processing the cases and working with UK Government and host authorities to ensure cases are processed to meet the best interests of the child. We will also be assisting vulnerable adults.
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There are several different approaches. Our lawyers spend more than 10 hours on each asylum case, and much of this time is spent verifying the family link. They meet with all family members in the UK, as well as the children seeking asylum, and review the family witness statement (which details the relationship and the desire to be reunified).
As well as this, if a family member has status in the UK they will have been asked to list all their living family, which means the asylum-seeking child or vulnerable adult should already be known about. Another approach is to use DNA testing, where appropriate and legal.
In France, our team builds relationships NGOs and community leaders, who help us identify vulnerable children.
In Greece and Italy, refugee children are scattered throughout the country, often located in children’s homes, detention facilities, police holding cells, refugee camps, unofficial structures or on the streets. Our field workers identify children by working with a range of partners, including children’s shelters, NGOs, refugee communities and volunteers.
In the UK, we work with diaspora communities to identify families affected.
In 2017, there were around 26,350 applications for asylum in the UK, a 14% decline from 2016. Not all will be accepted. Over the past few years, around half of asylum applications have ultimately been successful and the other half withdrawn or rejected. So ultimately, there are around 13,000 successful applications a year. This makes up just 0.02% of the UK population per year.
There are currently 21 million refugees worldwide. The UK is home to less than 1% of the world’s refugees.
In 2017, 2,206 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the UK.
Dublin III is the legislation which governs EU asylum claims. According to Dublin III, refugees should claim asylum in the first EU country they reach. However, there is a provision under which, if you are a minor and have close family in another EU country, you can apply to be with them while your asylum claim is considered (and have your asylum claim transferred to that other EU country). We have reunited hundreds of children with their families using this legislation.
Over 1,700 children are now safely in the UK thanks to the safe and legal routes we have opened. Mainly from France, we have also brought children from Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Syria, Belgium and Sudan.
The “jungle” camp is no longer, however, unaccompanied children continue to arrive in Calais. In 2017, according to RRDP, 40% of the migrants in the area said they were under 18.
We continue to work with unaccompanied children across France, and have successfully transferred children from Paris, we are also working in the smaller camps along Northern France.
The ‘Dubs Amendment’ refers to section 67 of the UK Immigration Act 2016, an amendment tabled by Lord Alf Dubs – one of 10,000 Jewish children rescued by the Kindertransport in the two years before the outbreak of WWII.
Lord Dubs first suggested the amendment on 21 March 2016: to provide for 3000 unaccompanied refugee children from Europe to be brought to the UK and given protection. However, when MPs voted on the amendment (on 24 April 2016), it was rejected by a narrow margin. The Bill went back to the Lords, where the obligation to bring a specific number was removed. It was then sent back to the Commons for another vote. By now, many campaigners, backbench MPs and public figures backed the amendment – Safe Passage led a national campaign to lobby MPs; the Government looked likely to lose. In the lead up to the vote, David Cameron did say that 3,000 children and their families would be resettled – but from the Middle East and North Africa Region and not from Europe. In early May, the government conceded that it would lose a vote, and let the Bill pass.
The amendment is phrased as follows: “The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.”
The government accepted that version on 4th May, precisely because it did not contain a fixed target. Lord Dubs said that the revised version “drops the specific number, because the Government were resistant to that.” However, many believed that the number of children brought would be close to the original suggestion of 3,000, because the Government promised to follow the “letter and spirit” of the law.
Initially, the UK government announced that the ‘Dubs amendment’ would only apply to those young people who entered Europe on or before 20 March 2016 (the date of the EU-Turkey deal), without requiring family links to the UK. The Government announced it would consult with Local Authorities on their capacity to accept children before setting a quota for the scheme.
In October 2016, after 5 months without any children transferred, Safe Passage conducted Best Interests Assessments of 40 children in the Calais “Jungle” camp to determine their eligibility for the scheme and sent the list to the Home Office and French authorities. The first 200 children were brought to the UK from France in late October 2016, as part of the UK’s commitment to take ‘half’ the unaccompanied children from Calais when the “Jungle” camp was demolished.
The France transfers were expected to be the first of many, however the Home Office announced on 8 February 2017 that only 350 places had been offered by Local Authorities for children, and that once those were filled the scheme would be closed. Campaigners were outraged that only around 10% of the number they had been expecting would be admitted to the UK. In response many Local Authorities stepped forward to say that they could take more children and that the consultation with councils had been flawed.
In April 2017, Ministers announced an extra 130 places had been pledged during the consultation, bringing the total number of places for children to 480, blaming “an administrative error” in the initial figure. Safe Passage and local Refugees Welcome groups have worked hard last year to identify additional places pledged, consulting local councils we found that most had the resources and the availability to welcome more children.
In September 2017, the UK still had not taken any children in under the Dubs Amendment that year. Finally, a few children were transferred towards the end of the year, with a handful coming from Greece but still none from Italy.
In January 2018, after a year and half of campaigning, it was announced that the cut-off date of the 20th March 2016 would be brought forward to the 18th January 2018, enabling more children to be considered for transfer under the Dubs scheme.