U.K. Rejects Motion to Accept 3,000 Child Refugees

Labour Party's shadow immigration minister, Keir Starmer, vows 'the fight will go on.'

A girl holds a football at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees near the Greek-Macedonian border on April 25, 2016. Some 54,000 people, many of them fleeing the war in Syria, have been stranded on Greek territory since the closure of the migrant route through the Balkans in February.
Joe Klamar/AFP

The British parliament has rejected a measure that would have seen the United Kingdom accept 3,000 child refugees.

British lawmakers voted against the proposal by 294 to 276 on Monday. Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats supported the amendment.

A few Conservative lawmakers did vote in favor of accepting the children. Tania Mathias said accepting children at risk of harm in Europe was the “right thing to do”.

In response to Monday's vote, Labour Party lawmaker Keir Starmer, the shadow immigration minister, has vowed "the fight will go on" to press Britain to take in more of the unaccompanied minors stranded across Europe.

In remarks quoted on Tuesday by The Guardian newspaper, Starmer said: "We can't turn our backs on their vulnerable children in Europe, and history will just us for that."

At least 95,000 unaccompanied child refugees are estimated to have applied for asylum in Europe last year,The Guardian says.

Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency, estimated in January that 10,000 children had gone missing after arriving in Europe, warning that many had been taken by criminal gangs.

The International Organization for Migration estimated earlier this month that 180,245 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea so far this year, the bulk of 154,227 to Greece, while at least 1,232 have died.

Victims include an estimated 500 people who drowned in a shipwreck off Libya this week, mainly from the Horn of Africa, which 41 people survived.

For the first three months of the year, an average of nearly 1,500 migrants or refugees arrived by sea each day in Europe, according to the agency.