LibLink: Tim Farron: The Government’s latest capitulation to take up to 3000 more refugees is welcome but not enough

Well, it serves me right for not reading something properly. I was on the train yesterday on my way to a hot date with lots of blue envelopes and leaflets when I saw the BBC announce that the UK was going to take thousands of child refugees. I thought that they had agreed to the request that had been made repeatedly by Tim Farron over the last few months.

I should have known better that this was just a re-hash of an earlier announcement ahead of a key parliamentary vote on Monday. Tim Farron saw through it straight away, and explained in the Huffington Post why it fell far short of what is needed:

If I was cynical I’d remark on the fact that this latest announcement comes just days before a crucial vote in the Commons which would force the Tories to take 3,000 vulnerable child refugees from Europe and it seems that the Government are trying to buy off MPs ahead of that.

Of course the Government’s latest capitulation to take up to 3,000 individuals from the Syrian region over the next four years is welcome but it is simply not enough. When I travelled to Greece earlier this month I saw thousands of refugee children languishing in camps that were overstretched and understaffed. Tens of thousands of vulnerable children travelling alone arrived in Europe last year – this latest announcement will do nothing for them. Instead they will continue to live on food rations, without access to education and without hope or fall prey to traffickers and those who would exploit them.

This might be a good time to remind you that Vinous Ali, our excellent equalities, justice and home affairs researcher, is running the London Marathon to raise money for the UN High Commission on Refugees on Sunday. She’s already smashed her £500 target, but this is a great cause, so please support her if you can.

Even on the personnel side the Government is failing to step up to the plate. Today’s announcement includes an offer of 75 experts to help the Greek authorities ‘process’ refugees as part of the new EU-Turkey deal. Given that the EU has estimated they will need 4,000 staff to do this effectively and efficiently we must do more. If the Government is committed to following through on a deal that has been widely condemned by international NGOs and now the Council of Europe we should at least properly resource it to ensure that the families caught up in it are processed quickly and in a dignified manner.

The only silver lining is the Government’s commitment to use the Dublin regulations and family reunion rules to proactively find those refugees who have family links to the UK. If the Government really are “committed to providing safe and legal routes for the most vulnerable refugees from Syria to resettle to the UK” as the statement professes then they would widen family reunion rules and I will continue to call for them to do this.

I am convinced that this announcement in its totality is a desperate attempt to try and stop compassionate MPs voting to take 3,000 children from Europe on Monday but I would be surprised if any MP falls for it. I certainly haven’t.

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

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5 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Apr '16 - 9:15am

    Let’s give the current government a little credit, they have appeared to review the current policy before making this rehash of an announcement.
    Reports in the press have said that neither the PM, nor the Chancellor are willing to take on the Home Secretary on Home Office issues.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Apr '16 - 9:30am

    I am reluctant to automatically accept what any UKIP MEP or MP says as accurate.
    The 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees should be the same everywhere, although it does contain two specific opt-outs which EU member states do not use under the conditions of entry to the EU (the ‘acquis’ in French).
    “NOTE: A reference for a preliminary ruling allows the courts and tribunals of the Member States, in disputes which have been brought before them, to refer questions to the Court of Justice about the interpretation of European Union law or the validity of a European Union act. The Court of Justice does not decide the dispute itself. It is for the national court or tribunal to dispose of the case in accordance with the Court’s decision, which is similarly binding on other national courts or tribunals before which a similar issue is raised”
    http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2016-02/cp160013en.pdf
    There is an obvious fact that the 1951 convention related to the actions of individual states. There are many unenforced borders around the world, so the existence of the Schengen Area should make no legal difference at a minimum.
    Perhaps a lawyer could comment?

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Apr '16 - 9:33am

    Roger Roberts 23rd Apr ’16 – 9:25am There is also risk from human trafficking.

  • “Tens of thousands of vulnerable children travelling alone arrived in Europe last year – this latest announcement will do nothing for them.”

    So here we have Tim’s myopic view of things, the government’s commitment to take children directly from the refugee camps is wrong, we should be looking after the children who have for whatever reasons decided to leave the refugee camps and successfully made the journey to an EU country…

    Sorry Tim, I suggest you follow in Martin Bell’s footsteps and actually visit a war zone.

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