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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Tories betray child refugees in callous and compassionless u-turn

As the BBC reports, a key route into the UK for children caught up in Europe's migrant crisis is to close after a total of 350 arrivals.

They say that a written ministerial statement by the Home Office announced that the UK will stop receiving children via the so-called Dubs amendment at the end of March. The law was designed by peer and former refugee Lord Dubs and aimed to help some of the estimated 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children across Europe.

A legal challenge on how the government has handled the legal commitment will go ahead on Friday. As the BBC point out, Ministers accepted the Dubs amendment last year after months of pressure from campaigners and members of the public to take children from the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais:

The amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 required the home secretary to bring a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children to the UK after consultation with local authorities. While there was no target number written into the legislation Lord Dubs and his supporters had suggested the UK could help 3,000 of the most vulnerable.

In Wednesday's statement, Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said 200 had already arrived and a further 150 children would follow before the end of March, filling the available places offered by local authorities.

A further 700 unaccompanied children had arrived in the UK under separate EU-wide rules designed to reunite families.

Separately, the UK has settled 4,400 individuals directly from Middle East camps under an international programme to help displaced Syrians, half of whom are children.

Responding to the decision, Lord Dubs said: "Britain has a proud history of welcoming refugees. At a time when Donald Trump is banning refugees from America, it would be shameful if the UK followed suit by closing down this route to sanctuary for unaccompanied children just months after it was opened."

"During the Kindertransport, Sir Nicky Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution virtually single-handedly. I was one of those lucky ones. It would be a terrible betrayal of his legacy if as a country we were unable to do more than this to help a new generation of child refugees.

This is a shameful decision that reveals a lack of compassion at the heart of this Tory Government. Let us hope that the legal challenge forces them to reconsider.
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