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 Full text 
Wednesday, 2 May 2018 - Brussels Revised edition

Protection of children in migration (debate)

  Roberta Metsola, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, the situation we are facing with the migrant children is heart-breaking and horrifying in equal measure. Last year, some 15 000 unaccompanied children arrived on our shores, lost and alone. Many of these children were put in a boat by their parents, who knew the risks and who did it anyway because a choice between fire and water and between certainty and some hope is no choice at all.

This issue is the litmus test of the strength of our European way. It is being put to the test and we have two choices. Do we double down on our values or do we turn our backs? The populists would turn and then manipulate the issue to try to get elected. I say that the time to pander to them must end. I am a proud Maltese Christian Democrat. I am also unashamedly a pro-life politician – probably one of the few – but it would be utterly hypocritical of me, or of anyone like me, to speak out for the unborn, but then turn our backs on children fleeing Syria, starvation or hopelessness just because they were born elsewhere.

By all means let’s have all the necessary security verification procedures in place, let’s close all the loopholes and let’s ensure identification, but let’s also counter the thinking that leads so many people to believe that these children are somehow so different from our own that we allow them to become scapegoats and cheap electoral punch bags. As has been said, unaccompanied children need guardianship, not prison guards, playpens and not barbed wire. They need child rights protection officers, respect, books and access to education. We have the resources to do this. States have a legal obligation to do this, and we must ensure that they do.

Last updated: 29 June 2018Legal notice