'Dubs' Amendment cancellation: a message from Catherine Henderson for HWSF.
Dear friends and supporters,
It was an unhappy coincidence that the day after our meeting about supporting young asylum seekers in Hertfordshire the Government announced the closure of the Dubs Amendment scheme.
The Dubs Amendment was passed by Parliament last May with the expressed aim of bringing 3,000 of the estimated 95,000 vulnerable young asylum seekers in Europe to the UK.
So far 200 children have arrived, none of them from Greece or Italy, where over 90% of the children arriving last year were unaccompanied. A further 150 are expected to arrive by the end of the financial year.
Alf Dubs was one of 669 children brought to the UK by Nicholas Winton on the Czech Kindertransport. The Kindertransport, which rescued 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe, met considerable opposition from sectors of the British media. It is, of course, now looked back on as something to be immensely proud of, a time when we were ‘on the right side of history’.
There is a Backbench Business Debate on 23rd February, at which MPs will discuss how we can protect vulnerable refugee children in Europe. This is a chance for us to write to our MPs, asking them to ask Amber Rudd to keep the Dubs Amendment scheme open.
You can find your MP’s details here: https://www.writetothem.com/
The Government’s arguments to close the scheme are two-fold.
First, it argues there is not enough Local Authority capacity to support the children. This is based on figures that are 9 months out of date, and many Local Authorities have since offered places that have not been taken up.
Second, the favourite Home Office argument that offering sanctuary serves as a ‘pull factor’ is being used to suggest the scheme will put more children at risk of trafficking.
In fact, as Justin Welby has pointed out, the opposite is the case. The ‘push factors’ are obvious: these children are fleeing violence, war and persecution, and are desperately vulnerable. There are many and complex reasons why they have come to Europe: ‘The Lightless Sky’ by Gulwali Passarlay, who fled to Europe from Afghanistan as a child, gives an insight into one child’s journey and why some families are compelled to send their children away.
It was public pressure, following the death of Alan Kurdi, that led to the Government saying it would take 20,000 Syrians over 5 years under the VPR scheme. It is public pressure that is needed now to keep the door open for the Dubs Amendment children.
On the upside – and there is an upside – Hertfordshire looks after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children very well, and has already taken children under the Dubs Amendment scheme. We are hoping to support the Refugee Council in a project later in the year. Georgina Egan of the National Youth Advocacy Service runs a volunteer befriending scheme where volunteers are matched with young people for 2 years. Please contact her after 20th February on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07990804473 to find out more.
Thank you for all your support.