Unaccompanied refugee children must be welcomed
Published on 1 March, 2017
The Church of Scotland has welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government that it will continue to do all it can to ensure the safety and integration of unaccompanied children.
A roundtable meeting between ministers, local authorities and partner agencies including the Kirk was held today and focused on a commitment to bringing forward a national framework agreement as well as exploring further funding and capacity support.
The UK Government has been criticised for ending the "Dubs amendment" scheme in March after taking in 350 children.
There are an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children across Europe.
Deserve our care
Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said: "Children and young people who seek asylum in Scotland are extremely vulnerable and deserve our care, compassion and support.
“As Christians we recognise the importance of hospitality to the stranger as both a duty and a source of enrichment for all concerned.
“The Church of Scotland has been actively engaged for some time in offering practical support to refugees and campaigning for a more generous spirit on the part of government.
“We therefore welcome the Scottish Government's roundtable on unaccompanied child asylum seekers, and look forward to working with the government, local councils and the third sector to welcome and support every child who seeks refuge in our nation."
Safe and loving
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with a group of unaccompanied children prior to the meeting, where she heard first hand of their traumatic journeys to Scotland, and the challenges they face while trying to integrate in a new home.
“Every child should have the best start in life and grow up in a safe and loving environment,” she said.
“Yet for far too many young people this is not the case.
“The on-going efforts of local authorities, partner organisations and local communities are to be commended in their work to make Scotland a safe and welcoming place for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
“We should show our humanity and offer refuge to vulnerable unaccompanied children who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves displaced and separated from their families and homes.
“They deserve to feel safe, have an opportunity to rebuild their lives and fulfil their potential.”
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “The work between local authorities, the third sector and the Scottish Government has been leading the way in the UK – now is our opportunity to continue that good work.”