The situation for child refugees in Europe today?

There are more child refugees in Europe today than at any point since World War Two, many of whom are unaccompanied.

There are many reasons as to why a child might arrive in Europe on their own. Some have been sent by their parents hoping their child will have a better life away from conflict, some are orphaned while others have been separated from family en route by smugglers or in the chaos of the journey fleeing for safety.

The majority of these child refugees arrive in the hotspots of Greece, Italy and increasingly Spain. Many do not stay in those countries but take dangerous journeys north seeking safety or to be reunited with family. They are all too often unaware of their rights to access legal routes to safety.

Children trying to reach their relatives in any European country have a legal right to travel safely through Europe. This is either because they have close family in their destination country who can look after them, or because of the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Bill, which offers protection in the UK to some of the most vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children in Europe. Find out about all the different legal routes here.

Due to a lack of information these children often turn to the smugglers and people traffickers who brought them to Europe to get them to family.

While these children are not with their relatives in the UK they can find themselves living in makeshift camps, living in the woods subject to police abuse in Calais or rough on the European city streets.

Governments are making it difficult for child refugees to access these legal routes, borders are closing and fences are going up. While this happens children will be forced to make dangerous illegal journeys.