Refugee Children in Europe

On 9th May 2016, the Dubs’ amendment to allow unaccompanied children to be offered safe refuge in the UK was passed in the House of Commons. The first fourteen arrived in London on 17th October after months of prevarication.

The subsequent demolition of the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais and the appalling way it was conducted has, according to an assessment made by a psychiatrist for Citizens UK, seriously affected the children’s mental health with 90% reporting increased anxiety and a third having suicidal thoughts.

Pressure needs to be put on the Government and individual local authorities to move this process forward.  Join the Liberty campaign to protect refugee children.


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Europe’s Missing Migrant Children

Children arriving alone in Europe are vulnerable to all manner of exploitation, trafficking and destitution. According to Missing Children Europe, in 2015, almost 90 000 asylum seekers in the European Union were unaccompanied children under 18. This is nine times the number arriving three years ago and does not include those children who are not applying for asylum. Because of poor data management, there are no exact figures for children arriving into Europe.

It is estimated that around 50% of the unaccompanied migrant children placed in accommodation, reception or observation centres across the EU go missing within the first 48 hours upon arrival. Few EU member states have any legal regulations on missing migrant children. They often receive a lower priority status than other missing children and at least 2  member states have a fixed ‘no action’ period before an investigation is begun.

The Bigger Picture

65.3 people are currently displaced as a result of violent conflict. The majority are internally displaced (40%) or in neighbouring countries. Around 50% are children.


In 2015 8.6 million people were internally displaced by conflict and violence – 14 000 a day. 4.8 million in the Middle East alone.

internally displaced

1.2 million people have reached Europe since 2015, fleeing conflict and violence.  More impoverished  countries such as Turkey (2m +), Lebanon  (1.5m) and Pakistan (1.5m) are hosting far more refugees than this individually.

host countries

Most families leave on the dangerous journey to Europe or send their children because they have run out of all other options. For some, educational opportunity is a big driver. Without education, they see no future for their children. A high percentage of displaced children are missing out on school and are vulnerable to child labour, early marriage and recruitment by militias.  The money spent by the West on war is not matched by that spent on aid. The United Nations relief agencies, other aid agencies and host governments all have massive shortfalls of funding. The graph below is for Iraq, but could apply to any countries suffering from armed conflict.