28 August 2018

10-year-old children are resorting to suicide on Lesbos

“It is completely unacceptable that refugee children seeking sanctuary are being forced to live in conditions so appalling that some are resorting to suicide attempts. No child should face the daily threat of extreme violence, the stench of raw sewage and respiratory diseases caused by police tear gas. Today’s BBC report clearly shows there is an urgent need to do more for refugees in the EU as well as those in conflict zones.

“In line with recommendations by UNHCR, Safe Passage is calling on the UK government to commit to resettling 10,000 child refugees over the next 10 years, from within Europe and globally. Like every country, the UK cannot stand by whilst children live like this. We must do more to help.

“Resettling 10,000 children would require funding from government for the equivalent of just three children per local authority per year. Safe Passage believes this a realistic and achievable goal and we would urge the government to make this humanitarian commitment as a matter of urgency.”

Letter to editors

The BBC’s report on children attempting suicide at the Greek refugee camp Moria is a shocking reminder of the stark reality facing refugees in Europe today. In conditions so appalling that charities have left in protest, children survive extreme and daily violence, the stench of raw sewage and respiratory diseases caused by police tear gas. A doctor that has worked in multiple conflict zones describes the camp as the worst place he has ever seen.

Current UK policy is to accept 3,000 children from conflict zones by 2020 and 480 child refugees from within the EU under the Dubs scheme. Beyond these limited schemes, the government has no clear resettlement plans for child refugees.

Safe Passage is calling on the government to offer continued safety to child refugees by committing to take 10,000 children over the next 10 years. This would mean providing councils with the funding to resettle an average of just three children per year.

The Safe Passage resettlement plan would bring some of the world’s most vulnerable children to safety. For refugees like those in Moria this commitment cannot come soon enough.