‘Scandalous’ that government won’t take in refugee children
LORD DUBS attacked the government yesterday over its “scandalous” decision to renege on its pledge to grant asylum to thousands of lone child refugees in Europe.
Rather than the 3,000 vulnerable children the government promised to support under the “Dubs” scheme, it sneaked out the fact that just 200 of them had been granted asylum.
The government also announced that after a paltry 150 more are accepted, the scheme would be shut down.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd attempted to downplay the scandal on Thursday by claiming that the scheme was not closing but merely taking in less children than had previously been suggested. She argued that the programme “incentifies” children to travel to Europe and puts them at risk of traffickers.
Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, Labour peer Alf Dubs, whose amendment was agreed by both former PM David Cameron and then home secretary Theresa May last year, hit out at the decision.
Mr Dubs was himself a beneficiary of refugee status as one of thousands of Jewish children saved from the nazis during the Kindertransport. He has likened the current crisis with the situation in the 1930s and ’40s.
The revelation was met with outrage by opposition MPs and a number of Tory back benchers in the Commons yesterday, where Ms Rudd sought to defend the decision.
Responding to an urgent parliamentary question from Labour’s Yvette Cooper, Ms Rudd said: “I am clear that when working with my French counterparts they do not want us to indefinitely continue to accept children under the Dubs Amendment because they specify, and I agree with them, that it acts as a draw. It acts as a pull.
“It encourages the people-traffickers.”
Ms Cooper, who chairs the home affairs select committee, said thousands of child refugees are suffering in camps in Greece and Italy, desperate for help and at risk of abuse, exploitation and enslavement.
She added: “Britain can do better than this; will she accept that and reinstate the Dubs programme now?”
Ms Rudd claimed the government was concentrating its efforts on providing aid and resettlement to vulnerable people in crisis-hit regions such as Syria, instead.
The claim cut little ice however with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
She asked of Ms Rudd: “How does she live with herself, leaving thousands of children subject to disease, people trafficking, squalor and hopelessness?”
Aid workers in Europe told the Guardian that children would be “devastated” by the closure of the programme and would respond by risking their lives to reach Britain.
An emergency demonstration is to be held at 6pm tonight outside Parliament in protest against the early closure of the child refugee scheme.
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