This year, World Refugee Day has arrived in conjunction with what could be called the precipice of the refugee crisis. Migration of those fleeing conflict has reached unprecedented levels: Since January 2015, 1.2 million people have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean sea to reach Europe; in 2016 so far, 35% of arrivals by sea have been children and 27% of all asylum applications (95,080) have been for children.
Amid the frenzied campaigning around Brexit, the “Remain” campaign has engaged in scaremongering and issued warnings of “swarms of migrants” entering Britain; but this doesn’t change the reality that the majority of these migrants have their own harrowing stories that have left them with no other choice.
It is therefore, more important than ever to stand together with refugees this year.
The most vulnerable in this situation are the thousands of children who have had to make the journey on their own and who are open to exploitation and abuse at the hands of traffickers and smugglers.
As well as the physical threats and fear that come with fleeing home, the psychological impact on minors undertaking a journey fraught with danger and facing systemic rigmarole, is something that has been overlooked, as they are politically negotiated in terms of “numbers”, “resources” and “capacity considerations”.
Badly formulated arguments such as avoiding the “pull effect”, further compound the precarious situation that unaccompanied minors wanting to enter Britain are faced with. Engaging in political bargaining, the UK is falling short of European regulations and the international law it is bound to comply with.