Aileen O’Hagan

Naked Politics Blogger

On the 2nd September 2015 pictures of a three year old, Alyan Kurdi, washed up dead on a Turkish beach hit headlines all over the world. The pictures struck an emotional chord with many calling for unity and solidarity to help those fleeing a warzone. The Guardian published an article headlined: ‘World Leaders accused of shameful failure over refugee crisis’ and many took to social media, using the hash tag ‘Kiyiya Vuran Insanlik’ which literally means ‘humanity washes ashore’.  In response to the images PM David Cameron insisted the UK would fulfill its moral responsibilities. But seven months later and it seems like the government has forgotten Alyan Kurdi and the millions of other children fleeing a warzone.


Last week the UK had an opportunity to fulfill its moral responsibility and refused to do so. The government refused to amend an immigration bill that would have let 3,000 unaccompanied minors enter the UK. Save the Children have estimated that 26,000 unaccompanied children entered Europe in 2015 and the European Union Criminal intelligence agency claimed that at least 10,000 of these children had disappeared. No one knows where these children have gone but with millions of people entering Europe, with little protection, refugees are vulnerable to the exploitation of human traffickers. Unaccompanied children, especially girls are the most vulnerable and likely to be trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour.

The majority of the 294 MP’s voting against the amendment were Conservative, on the basis that it may encourage families to send children abroad alone, putting them into the hands of human traffickers.  The notion against the amendment was backed by IDS, who recently resigned as Work and Pensions Minister on the principle that the government had lost compassion for the most disadvantaged in society.

Of the SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrats, 276 voted in favour of the amendment. During the debate SNP Joanna Cherry MP stated ‘When I was in Calais at Easter, I was told by aid workers that, as a result of the British Government’s refusal to take children from northern France, children are being trafficked into the United Kingdom and are attempting unsafe journeys by jumping on to or under lorries bound for the United Kingdom’

The UK has chosen not help the most vulnerable people in this world, yet we pride ourselves on being one of the world’s most influential countries and we take on any challenge that comes our way. After all we did win two World Wars and have overcome the biggest economic catastrophe to have ever happened. As a global advocate for children’s rights we have responsibility and the capability to allow 3000 refugee minors into the country. So when are our politicians going to exchange our pride for compassion?

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Last Update: April 28, 2018