The UK is not doing enough to help Syrian refugees crossing Europe, particularly unaccompanied children and families that have become separated, MPs have said.
A report by the Commons Home Office select committee confirms that two out of every five Syrian refugees resettled in the UK under a government scheme have been given new homes in Scotland. MPs have called on the UK government to take in more unaccompanied children in migrant camps, saying scores of them “should already have arrived”.
Aid efforts have been focused on Syrian refugee camps in the region, but the committee insisted the UK should also provide aid to Syrian refugees already in Europe.
SNP and Labour members of the committee attempted to have the report amended, toughening language dealing with the UK government’s refusal to take part in EU resettlement schemes and its policy on unaccompanied child migrants, but were overruled by Tory MPs.
Refugees should not be sent home after a temporary five-year resettlement period comes to an end, the committee added.
MPs conclude that EU members states including the UK “failed to anticipate the scale of migrant flows, and did not have the structures and mechanisms in place to cope.
“As a result, the EU has been too slow to respond in a coordinated way.”
The committee said the UK and French government had failed to a strategy to improve conditions at unofficial camps in northern France, or how they could be safely cleared.
“It is clear that there are many people in these camps entitled to humanitarian protection or refugee status, including some who should have their claims processed in the UK,” the report states.
There are also warnings on security, with the report raising fears over the ability of the UK to police its own borders. MPs said the number of border force patrol vessels “worryingly low”.
The government “has not heeded warnings” that the flow of migrants attempting to reach the UK could shift to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany following a clampdown in Calais.
And MPs warned any suggestion that Brexit could put an end to the Le Touquet agreement, which allows UK border checks to take place on the French side of ferry and train terminals, could encourage more migrants to come to Calais.