Intended for healthcare professionals


Child refugees: the right to compassion

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 17 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6100
  1. Sebastian Taylor, head of global operations1,
  2. Geoff Debelle, child protection officer12,
  3. Neena Modi, president1
  1. 1Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, London WC1X 8SH, UK
  2. 2General Paediatrics, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to: S Taylor, Sebastian.Taylor{at}

The UK must do more to meet its moral and legal obligations to migrant children

The United Nations refugee agency estimated that the number of people forcibly displaced around the world topped 60 million in 2015.1 In the same year, 270 000 asylum seeking children arrived in southern Europe. The phenomenon of globally mobile populations is not short term; it is the “new normal,” and the UK—like other high income countries—might have been expected to have had a clear, predefined response.

Ninety five per cent of the refugees who have recently arrived in Europe came by sea; a quarter of them were minors.2 In 2015, a third of the refugees who drowned in the Aegean were children.3 Sadly, arrival on the European mainland does not bring safety. At the time of writing, the UK has managed to take in only about 300 children from …

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