Even the Daily Mail thinks the Government isn’t doing the right thing by child refugees

Who ever would have thought that the Daily Mail of all publications would come to the conclusion that the Government has got it wrong on helping the child refugees already in Europe?

Today’s editorial does repeat at length a good bit of its usual anti-immigration, anti-Merkel and anti-EU rhetoric, so you’ll still need a shower after reading it. Even despite all that, it comes to this rather startling conclusion:

But every sinew of our hearts tells us it’s a gesture that must be made — while every child we take will mean a life of hope in place of despair.

Mr Cameron should consider that of all the countries in the Europe, Britain has the longest established tradition of offering sanctuary to refugees from war and oppression.

It urges the Government to accept Alf Dubs’ further amendment which was passed in the House of Lords on Tuesday night.

There are numerous petitions going round the internet asking the Government to do the decent thing and help some of these children. However, Alf Dubs has created one on the Parliamentary petitions website which has at the time of writing collected almost 40,000 signatures in two days. It says:

The Government should accept the call to give sanctuary to child refugees who are alone and at risk in Europe.

95,000 child refugees are on their own in Europe as a result of the refugee crisis. They are sleeping rough and in makeshift camps, desperately vulnerable to abuse and to trafficking into modern slavery.

We rightly look back with pride at the leadership our nation showed in rescuing 10,000 children from Europe through the Kindertransport.

Britain must not turn its back on child refugees in Europe today.

If you haven’t already, I’d urge you to sign this one.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Eddie Sammon 28th Apr '16 - 3:00pm

    The Daily Mail found itself on the wrong side of history after its arguments in the 30s and it seems it doesn’t want to do the same over refugees again. Although this is the least we can do.

    David Cameron, however, seems to be refusing to help our allies in Europe with unaccompanied child refugees because he thinks it is the responsibility of continental Europe alone. All countries can help out.

    It’s the same kind of argument that says “don’t rescue drowning migrants” because it might encourage them and the same kind of argument can be made against the NHS too so people have to ask whether they trust a party who refuses to help unaccompanied children in Europe.

  • The Mail are as wrong on this as they are on most other things.

    Given that we can only take in a finite number of refugees, it stands to reason that every refugee we take in from Europe (which, last time I checked, was not an actual war zone) means one less we can take from the immediate vicinity of Syria.

    Caron, why do you think we should prioritise people in Europe over people in refugee camps near Syria?

  • Thank you for the link Caron, done.

    Stuart, these are unaccompanied children who cannot fend for themselves not adults who make choices about their location and have a degree of self-reliance. Taking them in is just the right thing to do, without a head count. Somehow we will cope, we’ll make space. I’m astonished anyone needs to ask. It’s what makes you part of the human race. I’m pretty certain that if all 95,000 arrived tomorrow every one of them would be housed and fed through the kindness of strangers by tea time.

  • I found an interesting statistic. In 1939 in the UK 827,000 school age children were moved to safety in just 3 days. Where there’s a will, etc.

  • I think Alf Dubs amendment will be adopted, simply because it doesn’t tie the UK down to a set number. It also appears to say that a being a child alone is not enough and that the UK authorities will decide if they consider a child is at risk. However, my guess is that this will not increase the overall number of refugees we take in, it will just mean less families coming over from the camps in Jordan and the like. I would like to be more optimistic for the refugees, but it looks a pretty vague amendment to me.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Apr '16 - 12:20am

    This is fascinating. Several things .opening with well done , Caron for this .

    About time you joined the party and added your thoughtful approach much needed
    Nice touch ,Alf Dubbs as was , Lord Dubbs ,many years , was my mp in my school area as a boy in the 80s,when I joined Labour .I have been Liberal Democrat for years, he is more sensible now at his ripe old age , than most in the front rank of his increasingly odd party , just as he was sensible then ! A fine man.Some good things do not change thank goodness !

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Apr '16 - 12:24am

    Is Tim calling for us to take the refugee children from the camps or Europe or is he in fact saying we need to do more regardless ?

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Apr '16 - 12:50am

    Thanks Lorenzo. I’ve decided I’m voting for the party on 5 May, but I wasn’t sure for a while. Loyalty to LDV and the strength of the local Lib Dem team have convinced me. It is only really Lib Dems who take an interest all year around here.

  • @Stevan Rose
    “I’m pretty certain that if all 95,000 arrived tomorrow…”

    Fact: Of that oft-quoted 95,000 (a figure calculated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism), over 3,000 of them are already in the UK (which, some seem not to have noticed, is within the EU, at least for now), so the government would actually be correct in claiming we have already taken in more than this petition is calling for.

    Do you know how many Syrian children are currently living as refugees outside of Syria? About two million. And that’s not mentioning the many still trapped in Syria itself. (We must be careful not to conflate issues here though – many tens of thousands of the 95,000 in the EU are not actually Syrians.)

    Numbers do matter. Nobody is seriously suggesting we can take every child refugee from everywhere in the world. That means we have to prioritise. I am unable to see why we should prioritise those in the EU over those still stuck in or near Syria. If you can think of a reason, do share it – simply saying those who disagree with you are somehow not “part of the human race” doesn’t count.

    I actually agree with Cameron on this, for three reasons. I believe those in or near Syria are in a worse predicament and hence need our help more. I do not believe that Europe as a whole is any more dangerous than the UK. And I do think the “pull factor” argument holds weight; if we make the chances of getting in the UK better if you are in the EU rather than Turkey or Jordan, it seems obvious that more people will risk their lives to get to Greece and elsewhere.

    These are all rational and compassionate reasons for wanting to prioritise non-EU refugees – on the assumption that our EU neighbours are just as capable of looking after refugees as we are. If these arguments are wrong, please respond with better ones, instead of simply questioning the morality of others.

    Alf Dubs is an admirable man but he is way off beam comparing this to Kindertransport or the import of Spanish refugees in the 1930s. There is no comparison whatsoever between rescuing people from violence and fascism, and “rescuing” people from peaceful, liberal western European countries in 2016.

  • David Evershed 30th Apr '16 - 12:25pm

    There is a limit to the number of refugees any country is capable of looking after.

    Is it better the UK take lone child refugees from

    a) Germany, France, Italy or

    b) Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan?

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