Defending the rights of refugee children

SOS Children’s Villages advocates at the national and international level to ensure the rights of refugee children worldwide are upheld. Through our connections with international institutions such as the UN and EU, and national and local governments around the world, we are campaigning for refugee children and their families fleeing violence, disaster and persecution to be treated with dignity and given the opportunity to seek sanctuary safely and legally.

We assert that every child, refugee or otherwise, deserves respect, and the utmost care for their physical and psychological health. Children should be treated as children, whatever their immigration status or that of their parents, and their best interests must always be placed above political or practical concerns. It is unacceptable for children to end up alone, destitute, on the streets, living in detention, in squalid camps or any other inhumane condition. They should not be imprisoned for a situation beyond their control, or separated from families who love and protect them.

SOS Children’s Villages is campaigning for:

  • Expansion of safe regular channels for refugees, including resettlement, to save lives and ensure refugees are not forced to rely on smugglers
  • An end to the immigration detention of children
  • Unsupported child refugees to be given proper care
  • Refugee family reunion

The Refugee Family Reunion Bill

SOS Children’s Villages UK is part of a coordinated coalition of NGOs campaigning for the Refugee Family Reunion Bill sponsored by Angus MacNeil MP to become law in the UK. The bill would give refugee children with leave to remain in the UK the right to be safely reunited with their family. 

Current restrictive laws are denying vulnerable refugee children the opportunity to grow up with their family. As a result, hundreds of children are facing a future alone and without the family stability they need. Refugee children are often fleeing danger, war and political unrest – and laws in the UK are only adding to this suffering.

This bill, along with a similar House of Lords bill brought forward by Baroness Hamwee, are currently making their way through Parliament and are awaiting the approval of the Government. The success of the bills is therefore by no means certain, and we will be following this process closely to ensure refugee children are not denied the right to a family life. 

Both bills call for refugee children to be reunited with their families by:

  • Giving unaccompanied refugee children in the UK the right to sponsor their family members to join them
  • Expanding the definition of ‘family’ to allow more refugees to be reunited with their family
  • Reinstating legal aid for refugee family reunion cases

Click here to follow the passing of the bill, or sign up to our newsletter for updates on how to get involved.

Child refugee resettlement in the UK

Millions of children worldwide have been forced from their homes by warfare and disaster. At least 300,000 of them are travelling the world’s dangerous migrant routes alone. By denying children a safe route of escape from violence, the world’s governments are placing them in greater danger and leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous people smugglers. 

We are calling on the Government to protect unaccompanied child refugees by providing safe and regular channels for them to reach safety.

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