The Home Office has published the selection criteria for the remaining 150 children it will transfer to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act (popularly known as the ‘Dubs scheme’). The UK will take children from France, Greece and Italy where a ‘Best Interests Determination’ has concluded that it is in the best interests of the child to be transferred to the UK.
The Government has said that it will invite referrals from France, Greece and Italy, and that it will be up to those countries to decide which children to transfer. The countries will be asked to consider those children who are more likely to be granted asylum status in the UK, and the most vulnerable (i.e. those at a high risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and survivors of torture).
Only children who had arrived in Europe before the EU Turkey deal on 20 March 2016 will be considered, leaving the majority of children in Greece ineligible. The countries are being asked to confirm by the end of March whether they are able to identify eligible children.
Today the International Development Committee will also hear from Safe Passage and Lord Alf Dubs about the scheme’s immanent closure. In Greece there are currently 2,300 unaccompanied minors for just 1,250 shelter places offered by the Greek authorities, including victims of trafficking and sexual abuse.
Natasha Tsangarides, Safe Passage’s Greece Field Manager, said: “These vulnerability-led criteria are a significant improvement on the arbitrary and unfair ones used in Calais last year. That said using the March 20th cut off date lacks credibility and seriousness given the Bill was passed in May last year and to date not one child has been transferred under its auspices from Greece.
Of course, with government determined to wind up the programme by April these criteria will be scant comfort to the thousands of minors for whom the Dubs amendment came as a lifeline. Children will once again be forced to make the terrible choice between train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other. These choices are worth up to £13,500 per child to the traffickers and of course will only result in the regrowth of the Jungle in Calais. We appeal to the government to reconsider their decision to close this lifeline pending further advice from the Anti-Slavery Commissioner and local authorities.”