Britain may take in unaccompanied children fleeing Syria conflict

World Sunday 24/January/2016 22:24 PM
By: Times News Service
Britain may take in unaccompanied children fleeing Syria conflict

London/Prague: Britain might take in refugee children who have been displaced by the war in Syria and have travelled to other countries in Europe, a government minister said on Sunday.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the government was considering whether it could do more for the estimated 3,000 children who have fled the conflict without their parents or guardians and are in Europe.
Asked whether the government was close to agreeing to calls from relief groups for Britain to admit the children, Greening told Sky News television: "That's what we are doing and I think that is the right thing."
Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said Britain would accept 20,000 refugees over the next five years from camps in the Middle East, as opposed to those who have already made it to Europe.
Critics say that response has been meagre when compared with the 1.1 million asylum seekers who arrived in Germany last year.
Campaign groups and more than 80 Church of England bishops have urged Cameron to do more.
Meanwhile, Czech President Milos Zeman said that the European Union's planned border patrol will be too small and member states should contribute soldiers to build up a force to protect the bloc's external frontier.
The EU has plans to create a European Border and Coast Guard with 1,500 personnel as part of measures to tackle its migration crisis, with leaders expected to agree details at a summit in June.
More than a million people arrived in Europe last year, mostly fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and north Africa, and the numbers show little sign of falling.
"I fully support the idea of a European border guard," Zeman said in an interview with Prime television channel on Sunday.
"But it seems to me to be comical if it has 1,500 members.
If every single EU country sent 500 people to this, then you have 14,000 soldiers."
Zeman said there were 20 times more smugglers than planned border personnel.
He also said setting up the new force will take six months and that half a million refugees could reach the EU by the time it was in place.
Germany has been by far the top destination for asylum seekers.
The influx of migrants to central European countries has been low.
Countries in the region have often taken a tough stance on the issue and stressed beefing up EU border protection while opposing a quota system for asylum seekers agreed by EU member states last year.
European Council President Donald Tusk warned last week that the EU had "no more than two months" to tackle the migration crisis engulfing the 28-nation bloc, or face the collapse of its passport-free Schengen zone.
Slovakia pushed for the EU to speed up the reinforcement of external border controls earlier this month, with Prime Minister Robert Fico saying the summit should be brought forward.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said then that he supported any action leading to a faster creation of a border guard.
Zeman has few policymaking powers as head of state and was criticised last year by United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein for making "Islamophobic" statements.