POLITICS

Jo Cox's Passionate Speech Urging The Government To Help Child Refugees

16/06/2016 18:48 | Updated 17 June 2016

Jo Cox urged MPs to do away with "party politics" as she pleaded with the Government to take in child refugees from Europe earlier this year.

In a powerful speech supporting the Lord Dubs plan to bring 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees to the UK, Cox said she would "risk life and limb" if her own "two precious babies" were subject to the horrors of the Syrian civil war.

Demonstrating her non-confrontational style of politics, Cox went out of her way to praise the Conservative Government's action in the Middle Eastern country before asking them to do more for refugees in Europe.

Speaking in the debate on April 25, Cox said: "I recognise that this is not easy, but tonight we are being asked to make a decision that transcends party politics.

"Any Member who has seen the desperation and fear on the faces of children trapped in inhospitable camps across Europe must surely feel compelled to act."

Speech in full:

"We all know that the vast majority of the terrified, friendless and profoundly vulnerable child refugees scattered across Europe tonight came from Syria. We also know that, as that conflict enters its sixth barbaric year, desperate Syrian families are being forced to make an impossible decision: stay and face starvation, rape, persecution and death, or make a perilous journey to find sanctuary elsewhere.

"Who can blame desperate parents for wanting to escape the horror that their families are experiencing? Children are being killed on their way to school, children as young as seven are being forcefully recruited to the frontline and one in three children have grown up knowing nothing but fear and war. Those children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness, and I know I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole.

"I am deeply proud of the Government for leading the way internationally on providing humanitarian support to Syrian civilians. Their commitment in terms of finances and policy to help people in the region, and across the middle east and north Africa, will save lives. However, in the chaos caused by the Syrian conflict and many other conflicts, many thousands of already deeply scarred children have become separated from their parents and carers, and they are already in Europe. The Government’s generosity to date has not extended to those vulnerable children.

"We know that identifying the exact number of unaccompanied minors is difficult, but the latest estimates suggest that there could be up to 95,000 such children in Europe tonight—four times the number we thought. That means that, if we decide tonight to take 3,000 of them, that will be just 3% of the total. That is our continent’s challenge, and we must rise to it.

"I recognise that this is not easy, but tonight we are being asked to make a decision that transcends party politics. Any Member who has seen the desperation and fear on the faces of children trapped in inhospitable camps across Europe must surely feel compelled to act. I urge them tonight to be brave and bold, and I applaud Stephen Phillips for an incredibly principled, personal speech.

"In the shanty towns of Calais and Dunkirk, the aid workers I spent a decade with on the frontline as an aid worker myself, tell me that the children there face some of the most horrific circumstances in the world. Surely we have to do the right thing tonight and support the Dubs amendment."

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