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The Separated Children of Afghanistan

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The rise to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan over recent weeks was a shock and a horror to many of us. We all gathered around our TV’s, phones and tablets to watch the news unfold. Safe in our British homes, we responded with sympathy as we watched Afghan, British, American and other nationals attempt to flee to safety.

The response of the UK Government to permit the entry of 20,000 Afghan refugees into the country in the next three years was met with approval, not least from me. The plans to welcome to 5,000 refugees this year is already underway [1].

I, and SYP have backed the UK Government in flying Afghans here, after all these people are fleeing a country facing a return to the horrors of the late 1990s. However, we must also ensure the safety and care of refugees when they arrive here.

In recent days, The Children’s Society has expressed serious concerns to the UK Government and Ministers for “denying them [child refugees] basic rights” [2]. This comes after reports of child refugees being denied basics like fresh clothes or healthcare by the Home Office, who are holding these children in hotels [3].

It has also been said that minors in these hotels aren’t being provided with a translator, or even being told where they are [3].

Notable youth charities, such as Barnardo’s, have made requests to the Home Office to allow them into the hotels to assist the children being kept in them [3]. So far, the Government has rejected these requests.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is a democratically elected body, with a long history of campaigning for the protection of young people and for their rights to be upheld. We cannot be blind to what is happening here, in the UK, to our new young people. We have a duty to uphold young people’s rights. The UK Government is working to save Afghan children from the Taliban, we must also work to provide the best lives for those children when they get here.

What you can do:

  • Contact your MP/MSP
  • Conduct your own research into the topic by reading the articles in the references below
  • Ensure key decision makers have young people’s interests at heart

References:

[1] UK to take 20,000 Afghan refugees over five years under resettlement plan – The Guardian — https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/17/uk-to-take-20000-afghan-refugees-over-five-years-under-resettlement-plan

[2] Charities call for stronger support for unaccompanied Afghan children – cypnow — https://www.cypnow.co.uk/news/article/charities-call-for-stronger-support-for-unaccompanied-afghan-children

[3] No shoes, spare clothes or money: traumatised Afghan children stranded for weeks in hotels – The Guardian — https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/21/no-shoes-spare-clothes-or-money-traumatised-afghan-children-stranded-for-weeks-in-hotels

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