Of an estimated 12 million Syrians displaced by war, more than half are children, tens of thousands of whom will be fleeing alone.
Their parents may have been killed or been separated from them. They may have lost their brothers and sisters or other family members. They have no one to turn to.
The UK’s decision to offer sanctuary to hundreds if not thousands of these children is right; it would be morally indefensible not to. We will then have a solemn responsibility to protect the fragile lives of these traumatised children while they are in our country’s care.
Our Government should urgently prioritise specialist, tailored care required by the unique circumstances of refugee children. These children need, and deserve, a decent place to live with the right people and support in place for as long as they need it.
At Barnardo’s we have specialist staff that could provide the critical ‘triage’ that newly arrived children and young people will need. We also have trained foster carers to look after unaccompanied children seeking asylum.
The government and local authorities should draw on such experience and expertise in putting together the package of support to help refugee children.
Our hope at Barnardo’s is that the people of the UK can support these children in a meaningful way, helping them to overcome their experiences escaping from war so they can imagine a safe future.
CEO of Barnardo’s
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