UK
01/02/2016 21:48 GMT | Updated 02/02/2016 12:59 GMT

Migration Crisis: Heidi Allen Tells Of 3 Conservative MPs Discovering 'Awful' State Of Lesbos Island

A Conservative MP has revealed the "awful" state of the Lesbos migrant crisis after she visited the island last week.

Heidi Allen and a pair of Commons colleagues travelled to Greece to witness the reality of human suffering and aid agencies' humanitarian support. Lesbos is the gateway to Europe used by thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing oppression and bloodshed.

The group visited two 'processing camps.' "It's a horrible description but that's what they are", Allen said in a recent interview.

Caroline Ansell and Jo Churchill, the Conservative MPs for Eastbourne and Bury St Edmunds, accompanied Allen on a 'Save The Children' fact-finder to see how vulnerable children are being protected on their "treacherous" journey to Europe.

According to the charity, 58,547 people have reached Greek shores since the beginning of January. The group highlights kids' separation from parents as "a key child protection concern".

Allen told ‘Newsnight’ on Monday of the shock of being confronted with the reality of "terrified, often-injured desperate people coming across from Turkey."

"It's hard. I get home - there's my husband, a cup of tea and a meal waiting for me," she said.

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Allen speaks to a Greek aid worker on the lookout for refugee boats off the coast of Lesbos

Quizzed on what she was struck by most, she said: "The overall scale and the inability of the Greek authorities to deal with it.

"I didn't expect it to be a wonderful experience, I knew it would be very upsetting but just the pressure that's been place on the Greek authorities to deal with it... From a coordination point-of-view it's just overwhelmed."

"I feel that every European country - [and] America - should contribute and have some real organisation there and they could really transform the situation.

"If it was me championing that meeting and bringing European leaders together, I think I'd want a grown up conversation.

"Germany have opened their borders beyond all recognition - some would say far too much. Within the huge numbers that Germany has taken by default there will be an awful lot of unaccompanied child as part of that.

"I think it's a sensible conversation of human beings and saying 'what can you manage, what can you take', but until we have done this work to understand the number of children that are unaccompanied, because no-body should try and find a home for a child if there is an opportunity to find their family. So that process has to be gone through first."

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Ansell, Allen and Churchill attend a briefing by Save The Children's Kate O'Sullivan in Greece

Kitty Arie, Save the Children’s director of advocacy and policy, called for urgent action to rejoin young people with their families and hailed last week's government announcement Britain would accept an as yet unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees as potentially saving lives.

"The support pledged to Greece and Italy to help identify unaccompanied refugee children who have family links in the UK could be a very significant move," she said. "We need urgent action to speed up the process to reunite these children with their loved ones.

“In the detail of the announcements, the government accepted the principle that it has responsibility for refugee children already in Europe, as well as those in the Syria region.

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“The commitment to resettle vulnerable and unaccompanied child refugees who have reached North Africa or Turkey is very important – this has the potential to save lives in the Mediterranean.

"We’ve all seen the frequent reports of families with children drowning off the coast of Greece.

“There has been unhelpful confusion in the way the announcements have been presented by the government– we will be monitoring progress to ensure that the UK meets its responsibilities to the most vulnerable lone refugee children.

"Britain has a proud history of offering a safe haven to the most vulnerable children – now we need to see that in action once again.”

Heidi Allen's 'awful' visit to Lesbos