CLOSURE OF ‘DUBS’ and related National/Local actions.
It is estimated that there are currently 95,000 unaccompanied refugee children living in Europe, many of whom have suffered appalling abuse (May’17). Since the closure of the ‘Dubs’ scheme earlier this year the hope of finding a legal route to safety for most of these children has now gone.
What is the Dub’s Scheme?
In May 2016 parliament passed the new Immigration Act 2016 which included the Dubs Amendment (Section 67) or unaccompanied child refugees and asylum seekers in Europe (the ‘hotspots’ of Northern France, Greece, Italy ) . This committed the government to offering sanctuary to some of these most vulnerable and at risk children, living alone in unsatisfactory temporary camps or sleeping outdoors and in need of urgent protection. It was envisaged during the parliamentary debates that up to 3,000 children and young people would be resettled here from the EU and there was support across all the political parties for this. (Fact Sheet on both ‘Dubs’ Scheme and Dublin 111 Family Re-unification available here: www.fullfact.org/immigration/ask-full-fact-dubs-and-dublin/ )
When did it close and Why?
The Government announced in February ’17 that they were suspending the Dubs scheme in March, capping the numbers of children to be resettled here from Europe at 350. This was later adjusted in April ’17 to 480.
There has been widespread criticism of this decision at all levels:- politicians, NGOs including The Refugee Council, City of Sanctuary, Citizen’s UK as well as church leaders. (see Church leaders letter to the Home secretary Here: and The Refugee Council’s response Here )
To date just just over 200 lone child asylum seekers in Calais, France have come to safety here. The UK has taken no lone children at all under Dubs this year.(www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/19/uk-not-taken-any-child-refugees-dubs-scheme-this-year ) The expectation had been that there would be full and comprehensive consultation with local authorities about the number of spaces they could make available. This was written into the legislation.There is concern however that there has not been adequate consultation with Local Authorities and, reportedly, that 100s more offers of spaces were not included. Since the Dubs scheme was effectively ended, dozens of vulnerable, potentially eligible children have continued to live rough near Calais, risking their lives by continuing to make dangerous attempts to cross the Channel illegally to reach the UK.
Response to Closure:
1. Legal Action: ‘Help Refugees’
“The Government’s foot-dragging is putting refugee children’s lives at risk. That is why this legal challenge is so very important. What these children need is a helping hand, similar to the one Britain lent me when I was a boy. I wasn’t left alone to live in camps or on the streets of Europe. I was saved by Britain and its people.” Lord Alf Dubs, Independent, 20th June ’17.
On 20th June ’17 ‘Help Refugees’ undertook a High Court challenge against the Government over the number of unaccompanied child asylum seekers accepted into UK under ‘Dubs’ and inadequate consultation with LAs. http://helprefugees.org.uk/dubs/ #dubsnow: //twitter.com/hashtag/dubsnow?lang=en
Lord Alf Dubs, who has campaigned tirelessly on this issue, and Juliet Stevensen are supporting the case. ‘Help Refugees’ now funds more than 80 projects across Europe and the Middle East. Safe Passage too is working on the ground in EU.
2. Statements/Other Campaigns: Nationally (incl: City of Sanctuary)
City of Sanctuary nationally made a very strongly worded statement in March on the closure of the ‘Dubs amendment’ child relocation scheme:
‘We, in the City of Sanctuary network express our deep concern shared by many about the Government’s attitude to the refugee crisis and their lack of commitment to accommodating unaccompanied refugee children through the Dubs Amendment. We urge our supporters to be vigilant and continue building a vibrant network essential to provide welcome and safety to sanctuary seekers……………..
Last month the Government stated that only 150 more children would be accepted under the Dubs Amendment. However, data from local authorities shows that there are at least 368 spaces available. It is very concerning that many councils have reported that their offers to take more children were ignored by the Home Office.
Sadly, on the 7th March MPs voted 287–267 to close the Dubs Amendment, and to shut the door on about 3,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children living without protection in Europe. This is quite a disturbing decision……..
Worst of all, the argument for upholding the cap of 350 children, is based on inaccurate information and politics of fear. Many councils have said they contacted the Home Office about available spaces and a willingness to take in child refugees, but were ignored.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has perpetuated misinformed ideas by arguing that Dubs and other transfer schemes act as ‘pull factors’, that they promote the role of traffickers. These arguments are incorrect, and are used as excuses to neglect these young refugees.
Where is our moral compass, and compassion? We, in the city of sanctuary movement are concerned that if we do not stand up for these children, we will allow the UK government to decide that young unaccompanied children who have fled war and conflict seeking refuge in supposedly “safe” Europe, are not worthy of our help or care.” City of Sanctuary, 15th March 17
- The Refugee Council ( Click Here), church leaders ( Here), Citizen’s UK, Safe Passage and Help Refugee etc have all made statements and campaigned on this issue, seeking a reinstatement of Dubs.
- ExCos also made a statement on Dubs and encouraged all it’s supporters to write to their MPs with their concerns, urging them to attend the parliamentary debate on 23.2.17 and advocate and lobby for the continuance of the Dubs programme. Unfortunately the vote in Parliament on this issue was not successful. Local MP Ben Bradshaw voted for the scheme to be continued.(https://exeter.cityofsanctuary.org/2017/02/10/opposition-to-planned-suspension-of-dubs-scheme-petition
- Click on image below to view ExCoS’ statement or download here: (ExCoS statement on Dubs Scheme closure-to Supporters )
Credit: Photo above–Reuters PA Images