In May 2016 the Government made a commitment to work with local councils to bring unaccompanied refugee children in Europe to safety in the UK, under an agreement called the “Dubs scheme”.
Three months on and they have completely failed to deliver on this promise.
Liberty and Help Refugees are campaigning to hold the Government to account and make this pledge a reality, and we need your support.
Take Action : Ask your councillor to sign our Statement of Support
Demonstrating local support for the Dubs scheme sends a strong message to central Government that the time to act is now – and that councils are keen to play their part.
Write to your local councillors using our form below. Ask them to sign up to our statement pressuring central Government into honouring their commitment.
Statement of Support:
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to create a resettlement scheme to bring unaccompanied refugee children in Europe to safety in the UK. We recognise and support the vital role that local councils can and should play in caring for children seeking sanctuary.
We urge central government to provide funding to build the essential regional infrastructure necessary to secure the placement and support of children across the country and help us build them a brighter, safer future.”
If you are a councillor and would like to support the statement, please email RefugeePledge@liberty-human-rights.org.uk
Write to your local councillor
A full list of councillors who have pledged their support to the statement can be viewed here.
Take Action: Write to your local newspaper
Writing to your local newspaper is a great way of bringing the desperate plight of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to the attention of your community, council and local MP.
It will be instrumental in persuading local councillors to sign up to Liberty and Help Refugees’ Protect Refugee Children campaign.
To help you get your message across, here are some tips for writing to your local paper.
Child refugees endure violence and separation from family members; lose access to education, healthcare, the support of their communities and often face bleak and uncertain futures.
As a recent harrowing report from UNICEF revealed, trauma does not end at Europe’s shores. Children seeking sanctuary across the continent face routine exploitation and abuse. Many have already disappeared into the hands of traffickers.
The UK has a long tradition of providing refuge to those escaping persecution and indiscriminate violence.
In May 2016, the Government committed to create a scheme proposed by Lord Dubs – himself a child of the Kindertransport – to bring refugee children stranded in Europe to safety in the UK.
The time for action is now. Local and central government must work together to ensure the Dubs scheme fulfils its potential as a lifeline for some of Europe’s most vulnerable children.
Currently huge question marks remain around funding for the regional infrastructure that will ensure consistent and high quality services across the country.
The whole process of resettlement – from assessment overseas, through placement with individual councils, to accessing essential services – must be rooted in the best interests of the child and adequately resourced.
Together we can hold the Government to account. Offering sanctuary to those fleeing war and terror is one of the most pressing human rights issues in the UK today.
By demonstrating local support for the Dubs scheme we send a strong message that urgent action is needed, and that local councils are keen to play their part.
Dublin III Regulations: https://www.ein.org.uk/news/dublin-iii-regulation-enters-force-today
After two hours walking through the camp in Calais, meeting refugee children who have crossed Europe alone, Alf Dubs is exhausted and feeling uncharacteristically despondent. “It is awful. I will have nightmares, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says.
Lord Dubs, the Labour peer who earlier this year masterminded a political coup forcing the government to promise to give sanctuary to some unaccompanied child refugees, usually comes across as an upbeat figure, not inclined to wallow in despair. Today he seems momentarily overwhelmed by the horrific situation facing about 860 children living here in second-hand camping tents and flimsy wooden shacks. Given the amount of energy he has dedicated to trying to help them, and the complete absence of any progress to date, he has every reason to feel depressed.
“It is a disgrace. A piece of legislation was passed with enormous public support, and the government has done nothing discernible about it,” he says. As a former child refugee himself, brought to Britain from Czechoslovakia on one of the Kindertransport trains in 1939, his sense of anger at the political inaction is particularly acute.
After his intervention shamed Cameron’s government into a U-turn, securing a commitment that Britain would give homes to some of the estimated 88,000 child refugees believed to be travelling through Europe, his amendment to the Immigration Act was widely celebrated as a rare sign of the government’s humanity. Four months later, none of the qualifying children have arrived in the UK. Worse still, Dubs is dismayed to find, during a meeting with French officials, that there is no system in place for identifying and registering the children in order to see who might be eligible. … [more]
As announced on 4 May, the Government will work with local authorities on plans to resettle unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.
Read the response in full
On 4 May it was announced that the Government will work with local authorities on plans to resettle unaccompanied children from Europe. We are looking to transfer children who were already registered in Europe before the EU-Turkey deal came into force on 20 March, where it is in their best interests.
We must put the best interests of children first, and avoid any policy that places children at additional risk or encourages them to place their lives in the hands of the people traffickers and criminal gangs. In any response, we need to be very careful not to inadvertently create a situation in which families see an advantage in sending children ahead, putting their lives at risk by attempting perilous sea crossings to Europe.
We will work closely with local authorities. We must ensure we fulfil our obligations to children who are already in UK, as well ensuring we have the right support for those who may be brought to the UK from Europe.
We will consult relevant NGOs, UNHCR, UNICEF and Member States on how best we implement this legislation. The very nature of this amendment means we must take the time to consult others before bringing final proposals on how to implement.
In addition to the above, the UK continues to take a comprehensive approach to the Syria conflict and migration crisis by providing significant aid and assistance; including our resettlement programmes. On 4 February 2016, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will more than double our total pledge to the Syria crisis from £1.12 billion to over £2.3 billion. This is our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. The Syrian Resettlement Scheme has already provided safe haven to more than 1000 vulnerable Syrians – around half of them children – and overall we expect children to make up a significant proportion of the 20,000 resettlement places we are providing to this group.
As announced on 21 April, we have worked closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to design a resettlement scheme that will protect the most vulnerable children. The new scheme has been designed with the UNHCR to resettle ‘children at risk’ from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Government has committed to resettling several hundred individuals in the first year with a view to resettling up to 3000 individuals over the lifetime of this Parliament, the majority of which will be children, where the UNHCR deem it to be in their best interests. Children who are identified as at risk will be resettled with their family members or carers where appropriate. There will be a review of the scheme at the two year mark.
This unique initiative will be the largest resettlement effort that focuses on children at risk from the MENA region. The new scheme will be in addition to the Prime Minister’s commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees. It is also in addition to our other existing resettlement schemes.
In regards to Europe, we are providing significant assistance to Member States facing particular pressures to ensure that all refugees can have effective access to protection, wherever they are. The UK is the largest bilateral contributor to the humanitarian response to the crisis in Europe and the Balkans with a total contribution of £65m. This includes nearly £46 million to provide life-saving aid to migrants and refugees including food, water, hygiene kits and infant packs, and protection for the most vulnerable, as well as support to organisations helping governments build their capacity to manage arrivals in Greece and the Balkans. The efforts of the partners we fund are targeted to reach the most vulnerable – including children.
It also includes the £10m Refugee Children Fund the Department for International Development (DFID) has created to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children specifically in Europe. The fund will support three specialist and mandated organisations UNHCR, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee to work with host authorities to care for and assist unaccompanied or separated children in Europe and the Balkans.
With demolition of ‘the Jungle’ only weeks away, the fate of some of its most vulnerable residents hangs in the balance.
There is no plan B. For children like Einas, who spent eight months and his family’s savings journeying from southern Ethiopia to northern France, the dream will die when the Jungle is dismantled. “I am here to reach the UK, that is all I think about, I have no other plan,” said the unaccompanied 17-year-old, who arrived in the Calais camp in January.
Europe’s biggest slum – around 10,000 migrants are squeezed into a sprawl of wasteland east of Calais – will be no more in a few weeks. Bulldozers will raze an eyesore that has acquired new political significance in the run-up to next spring’s French presidential elections.
Evening Standard: Meet the lost children of the Calais Jungle