Lambeth has committed itself to resettling unaccompanied refugee children and has urged central Government to provide the necessary funding.
The London council has backed a pledge by the groups Liberty and Help Refugees urging Whitehall to ‘provide funding to build the essential regional infrastructure necessary to secure the placement and support of children across the country’.
Whitehall agreed last May to take in an unspecified number of unaccompanied refugee children - ‘determined by the Government in consultation with local authorities’ - who had made the perilous journey to Europe.
Cllr Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council, said: ‘Local and central government must work together to provide safety, stability and support to children in desperate need.
‘Lambeth has a long history of offering refuge to people who have fled the most terrible conditions in other parts of the world. When children arrive here as refugees, completely alone after escaping terrible conditions, we have a responsibility to look after them and provide with a home where they can finally feel safe.’
The latest Help Refugees’ census of the ‘Calais jungle’ migrant camp revealed there are 608 unaccompanied children living there - an increase of 64% over the last three months. Europol has also estimated that 10,000 children have disappeared since registering in Europe.
The number of lone children claiming asylum and coming into the care of councils after their arrival in the UK stands at over 4,000. Kent alone has taken in around 840 under-18s and more than 500 over the age of 18.
Senior council chiefs are today in Calais as a part of a Local Government Association (LGA) delegation to the city. They will be visiting the camp and meeting with Calais’ mayor to further cooperation between English and French local authorities in tackling the refugee crisis.
Rachel Robinson, policy officer for Liberty, said: ‘As Lambeth Council have shown, councils across the UK stand ready and willing to help provide sanctuary for refugee children in desperate need.
‘We hope other authorities will follow in Lambeth’s footsteps by sending a clear message to central Government – the time for action is now.’