10 February 2017

Fresh Safe Passage research reveals the human cost of closing the ‘Dubs’ scheme as Councils step forward saying more can be done

Research from Safe Passage, a project of Citizens UK, has today revealed the stark implications of the decision by Theresa May to end the child refugee transfer and rescue programme created by Lord Dubs just six months after the first transfers under it.

Wednesday’s Home Office announcement confirmed that government is planning to transfer only 350 children through the measures – 200 already here who were transferred from Calais and another 150 due from across France, Italy and Greece over coming weeks, though Lord Dubs’s amendment had initially called for 3,000 to be brought to Britain.

Safe Passage today revealed:

  1. There are an estimated 2,300 unaccompanied minors in Greece, 1,400 of whom are on a waiting list for children’s shelters, while staying in inadequate conditions or are street homeless
  2. 40% of children in Greece are estimated by Safe Passage to be eligible for transfer under the terms of Lord Dubs’s amendment (now Section 67 of the Immigration Act) meaning after the government’s announcement 920 children will desperately be trying to secure the meagre 150 places offered by government
  3. The UK is the only country in Europe to have opted out of a broader and much larger EU wide relocation scheme and so to date have taken no refugee children from Greece beyond the 7 who have come to reunite with family members (6 of whom were assisted to do so by Safe Passage)
  4. An estimated 26% of the unaccompanied minors now shut out of the programme are Syrian
  5. Estimates suggest that the children to be shut out of the Dubs programme have already been out of education for 3 years and some have been in Greece homeless since October 2015
  6. More children are arriving every day in Dunkirk and the situation is deteriorating

Safe Passage is working with over 100 affected children in Greece and within its priority list are the following:

1 victim of forced labour in Greece
1 girl who experiences daily sexual harassment
1 girl who was raped outside a Greek refugee camp
1 boy who was gang raped in a “child” detention facility in Greece
1 boy who is prostituting himself in Greece
1 boy who disclosed a sexual assault while staying in informal accommodation

No proper investigation has been done by French or UK government officials in the Dunkirk camp however Safe Passage have observed that children in the camp are at high-risk of being smuggled and trafficked. There are more than 40 children with family in the UK and over 100 who do not have family in the UK but could be eligible under Dubs.

Meanwhile council leaders in Lambeth, Lewisham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow, Greenwich and Camden wrote in a letter to the Times that “more can and must be done.” Going on so say “We urge the government to re-consult local council leaders, reconsider the support given to this important programme and above all not snatch this lifeline from thousands of desperate children in need.”

Rabbi Janet Darley, spokesperson for Safe Passage said “We appeal to the government to re-consult with councils, and agree that if councils come forward with more places that more children will be transferred. Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children through the Kindertransport, used to say: ‘If it’s not impossible, there must be a way.”