The programme, likely to operate in a similar way to existing resettlement schemes, focuses on children at risk, such as unaccompanied children and those at risk of forced marriage. They will be brought to the UK, if possible with their families, from the Middle East and North Africa.
The announcement also mentions the funding and resources given to help separated children in Europe and reiterates previous commitments to making the Dublin III system work to reunite family members, where required, in the UK.
It also repeats the simplistic view that refugees are best helped by remaining by neighbouring countries , referencing the UK’s aid to the Syrian region and its determination to continue to contain people in Turkey.
The announcement comes just days ahead of the debate by Parliamentarians on the issue set for next week, as the Immigration Bill enters its last stages and will ping pong between the two Houses. Following a successful amendment in the House of Lords the Bill currently contains provision to bring 3,000 separated children from Europe to the UK.
Responding to the news, Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “This announcement is life changing, if not life saving news for the small group of children and their families who will benefit.
“However, it’s also grim news for the majority of other refugees who are desperately trying to escape conflict and persecution who the Government is try to contain in Turkey and other, poorer countries.
“It’s not good enough to offer a lifeline to one group of refugees while colluding to close off the escape routes of everyone else. All refugees need to be able to reach a place of safety. Until we see a coordinated, comprehensive response to this crisis; men, women and children will continue to be forced to take desperate measures to reach safety.”