Over 200 leading public figures are calling on Theresa May not to end the Dubs scheme for vulnerable child refugees in Europe.
In an open letter, Carey Mulligan, Gary Lineker, Keira Knightley, Sir Mark Rylance and Ralph Fiennes are among a host of leading lights – backed by Help Refugees and Citizen UK’s Safe Passage programme – asking the government to reconsider their decision to close the ‘Dubs’ scheme.
The letter comes just days after it was announced that the ‘Dubs’ scheme would end at the end of the financial year, due to a lack of places identified by councils for the children. Many council leaders have since come forward to reconfirm their commitment to the scheme, and the letter urges the government to “agree to extend the programme and re-consult with councils immediately.”
Many of those who have signed the letter have seen first-hand the grim realities of life in the refugee camps of Europe. All believe the government can and should be doing more for the most vulnerable unaccompanied child refugees in Europe.
The letter has been signed by over 200 public figures including authors, actors, musicians and broadcasters. A full list is below.
Last night at the BAFTAs, Ken Loach lambasted the government on their failure to keep their promise on child refugees. A number of attendees, including Viggo Mortensen and Tracey Seaward, wore “Dubs Now” pin badges.
This comes as Safe Passage revealed that there are 2,300 unaccompanied minors in Greece around half of whom street homeless. Safe Passage estimates that upwards of 920 of these children would be eligible for transfer under the Dubs amendment which government announced would only assist a further 150 minors. The minors have on average been out of school for three years.
Josie Naughton, Co-Founder of Help Refugees, said: “The outpouring of support for the continuation of the Dubs scheme by these well-known figures and the public demonstrates that its closure is at odds with the British values that make this country great.
“We ask that the government finds a way to do more to protect these vulnerable children fleeing war and conflict just as we did before the Second World War’”
Rabbi Janet Darley, Spokesperson for Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project, said: “We welcome the intervention by this broad range of public figures. Voices right across society are challenging the government’s decision to close the ‘Dubs’ and the lifeline it offers to the most vulnerable child refugees because we know it reflects our true national character.
Shutting the door on refugee children leaves them with a terrible choice of train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other. Councils and communities across the country stand ready to do more, we appeal to the government to live up to our proud history of offering sanctuary to the most vulnerable child refugees. Britain is better than this.”
Dear Prime Minister,
The government’s decision to close the “Dubs” lifeline for vulnerable refugee children is truly shameful.
The idea that as a country we will slam the door shut after just 350 children have reached safety is completely unacceptable.
Lord Dubs was himself a child saved by Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued 669 children virtually single-handed.
It is embarrassing that the Prime Minister’s entire government will not even manage to match the example set by her former constituent all those years ago, let alone the efforts of the Kindertransport movement of which he was a part which saved 10,000 children from the Nazis.
It is clear from the work of charities like Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project and Help Refugees with unaccompanied child refugees across Greece, Italy and France that where these safe and legal routes are blocked, children are left with a terrible choice between train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other.
The government’s threadbare consultation with councils is now nine months out of date.
The country we know and love is bigger than this. Communities and councils across the country stand ready to do more. The government must agree to extend the programme and re-consult with councils immediately.
Anna Maxwell Martin
Ben Drew aka Plan B
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Helena Kennedy QC
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Jonny Lee Miller
Lauren St John
Lucy Daniel Raby
Mary Kay Wilmers
Nicky Matthews Browne
Lord Richard Rogers of Riverside
Dr Rowan Williams