Following the Administrative Court ruling that the consultation on the Dubs scheme was lawful, Safe Passage is calling on the Government to now ensure all 480 places are filled by Christmas or sooner and to guarantee Brexit won’t mean the closure of another safe route – Dublin III – which allows refugee children who arrive in Europe to reunite safely and legally with family in Britain.
Just over 200 of the 480 spaces allocated have been so far been filled from France, with no transfers having taken place from Greece or Italy.
The debates today in both the House of Commons and House of Lords will focus on the worsening humanitarian situation in Calais and surrounding camps where close to 1,000 people including 200 children are estimated to be living, as well as the worsening situation for refugees in Greece and Italy.
Roughly 1/3rd of the children in Northern France are thought to have family in the UK and eligible for family reunion, many more could be brought under the Dubs scheme. In Greece, latest official figures show that 1,822 unaccompanied children are currently on the waiting list for accommodation shelters, with Greece resorting to accommodating children in police protective custody because of lack of resources.
George Gabriel Project Lead for Safe Passage said:
“Closing the Dubs route is shameful. Our grandparents saved 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis on the eve of the Second World War because it was the right thing to do while this lifeline will be cut after just 480 children have been helped.
“Safe Passage has been working directly with extremely vulnerable children in Greece who were approved for transfer over a year ago, while over 60 unaccompanied children spent last night trying to board lorries and high speed trains in Calais as they sought to reunite with their families here in Britain. Government now needs to roll up its sleeves, get these kids here by Christmas, and make sure they are finally protected as promised.
“Today must be the day the Government commits to ensuring no more children die trying to reach family in Britain from Calais because they can’t access safe or legal routes. A new accommodation centre in Northern France is a welcome step forward but this must be made permanent and provide legal assistance to be any solution. And the Government must use this opportunity to guarantee that another legal route for child refugees – Dublin III family reunion – will not be closed after Brexit.”
Lord Alf Dubs said:
“I am bitterly disappointed by the result. I survived because of this country’s proud tradition of protecting children fleeing war and terror. With winter approaching across Europe and refugees continuing to arrive it is critical we don’t close the door now to children seeking sanctuary.”
“We must put an end to desperate children jumping on those lorries, risking their lives and those of others as they seek to reach their loved ones – as is their legal right. We must continue to live up to the best of our traditions as a country. Organisations like Safe Passage and Help Refugees see first-hand the suffering of children on the front line of this refugee crisis, and we will do everything we can make sure these children reach safety by Christmas”
Barbara Winton, daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who saved 669 children as part of the Kindertransport efforts said
“the government’s own safeguarding strategy published last night specifies the Dubs agreement as a legal route for unaccompanied children to be brought to safety and yet in the same breath it is being closed. We know there is a great need to give sanctuary to young and vulnerable children already in Europe, we understand that British councils have offered more spaces as is made clear in that same safeguarding strategy. The government must live up to its own standards and offer more than 480 spaces.”
Tekle, brother of 14-year-old child in Calais:
“The government’s plan to open an accommodation centre for children in France is a very good news. As I have a younger brother in Calais, I’ll be hugely relieved knowing that he and other children will have a safe & warmer place to stay, and that their application can be processed accordingly at last.
“My brother has been stuck in France for seven months, with too many delays to enter the Dublin system. Being so young, this is so difficult – for him, for me, and for the whole family. He can’t cope alone. If he is safely reunited with me here, as is his right, I can take care of him and he could settle for a final time.
“I have a personal experience how hostile environment is. Considering these are young children going through this horrendous situation, it is tough. Accommodating them is a good step forward and we hugely appreciate it. I hope a lot will be done to bring them to a much safer place, and I hope no other child has to wait as long as my brother.”
Quotes from Dubs-eligible children currently residing in shelters run by Greek charity PRAKSIS:
Ali, 14 years old from Afghanistan, eligible for the Dubs scheme:
“After all those traumatic and difficult experiences I have been through until today, the separation from my loved ones, the journey to Greece, after having stayed in limbo for almost two years here, going to the UK will be the second most important moment in my life. That’s because, this wait made me feel so insecure that I could not move forward and now I am anxious to evolve and build a future for myself with more opportunities. This will be another hurtful separation for me, but hopefully it will be the last one in my life.”
About Safe Passage
Safe Passage is a programme of Citizens UK, the programme is focussed on setting up a process so that those who have a good legal right to claim asylum in the UK may do so. For more information see www.safepassage.org.uk
Dubs and Dublin 3 explainer
Dublin 3 – existing law which governs EU asylum claims. States you should claim asylum in first EU country you reach. However, there is a clause under which if you are a minor and have close family in another EU country, you can apply to be with them while your asylum claim is considered (known as a ‘take-charge request’).