Today the government has confirmed in the newly released Immigration Statistics that, after four years, the Section 67 ‘Dubs’ scheme has ended. Through this route, 480 unaccompanied children living in Europe have been brought to safety in the United Kingdom.
Where it started: the Calais Jungle camp
Whilst working in the Calais Jungle camp, five years ago, we were supporting hundreds of young children travelling without their families, some as young as six years old. We campaigned alongside Alf Dubs and organisations such as Safe Passage for an amendment to the Immigration Act that would allow the UK to offer sanctuary to unaccompanied minors, as Britain had done in WW2. Alf Dubs himself found sanctuary in the UK in this way when he was 6 years old hence the name the Dubs Amendment. Once it was passed as law, those of us working on the ground could see the government was taking no action to bring these children to safety. Help Refugees, along with our incredible supporters, launched a strategic litigation against the government in October 2016 to ensure they took action. During the week of the Calais Jungle camp evictions, starting on October 16th 2016, the UK government facilitated the legal transfer of 280 children.
Help Refugees strategic litigation
What came next is nearly four years of legal challenges and campaigning to pressure the UK government to uphold its promise to provide refuge for children still living in dire conditions across Europe, and fill the remaining 200 spaces available. With a legal battle that has spanned over three years, it would be a stretch to call the Dubs scheme a ‘success’.
Over 215,000 unaccompanied children have applied for asylum in the European Union (EU) since 2015. The United Kingdom has welcomed a tiny number of these children. And very few have reached our shores through safe and legal routes of passage. An incomprehensibly slow, inefficient and unfair asylum system has left thousands of children living in limbo. In the time it’s taken for the Home Office to process the filling of the 480 spaces to which it committed, hundreds more children have gone missing. We have campaigned to hold the government to account at every step of the process and will continue to do so.
The situation in 2020
Today, there are still over 6000 unaccompanied children living in makeshift refugee camps across Europe. With our amazing partners, we support these children with access to lawyers/rights, clothing, food, shelter and education. With conditions in Calais the worst they’ve ever been and thousands of children trapped on the Aegean islands in Greece, we must work harder than ever to ensure these children can find safety. Without safe and legal routes, children are pushed into the hands of smugglers and traffickers.
A huge thank you to our supporters
However amidst the struggles of the last five years we have also seen just how much people care. Local authorities, foster families, social workers and volunteers; Britain has shown its immense capacity to choose love. We would not have been able to achieve any of this work without you. Our supporters have campaigned tirelessly for the rights of unaccompanied refugee children. We would also like to especially thank our dear friend Lord Alf Dubs, without whom none of this work would have been possible. Alf has campaigned day and night to ensure that these 480 children have the right to a safe future in the UK.
“I am pleased by the news today that the children we have been campaigning for so hard to bring to safety are now here in Britain. But I have never accepted the cap at 480 places. We know that local authorities have capacity to take many more children. And we know that there are thousands of children sleeping outside tonight in refugee camps across Europe. There is a huge amount more work to be done to bring unaccompanied children to safety and to welcome them across Britain as we know has always been possible.” – Lord Alf Dubs
For further information about our legal challenge please see here.
For more information/media comments please contact:
Josie Naughton, CEO, Help Refugees
firstname.lastname@example.org / Mobile – +44 7944559838
Maddy Allen, Advocacy Manager, Help Refugees
email@example.com / Mobile – +44 7757722718