TWO thousand children have arrived in Britain this year without their parents or any family members.
They came here alone after fleeing wars and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea. They are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
The brutal war in Syria has itself forced more than 10 million people – half the country’s population – to flee their homes and seek sanctuary here in Europe.
For children who have lost their parents and who have been separated from their families, this Christmas will be very lonely. We can only imagine the trauma they have already suffered as they were forced to criss-cross the Continent to find a place of safety.
That’s why I was keen to support Save the Children’s campaign to encourage members of the public to write a welcome message in books which will help these children to learn English and settle into their new communities.
Many will be meeting with distant relatives they hardly know, in places they have never seen.
Just imagine how we would feel if they were our children.
At this time of year especially, we can extend the hand of friendship and do whatever we can to help these children feel safe and get the help and support they need to build a new life. They have been through so much already.
Save the Children is providing food, warm clothes and psychological care to the children, some of whom have been beaten, tortured and sexually abused during their journey.
You can send them a welcome message here: www.savethechildren.org.uk/welcome-message and it will be printed into a book and given to a refugee child in the UK in time for Christmas.
In the meantime, I wish every one of my constituents here in Ashton-under-Lyne a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.