Lord Roger Roberts write…highlighting the plight of child refugees

The Refugee Crisis is especially severe when we look at the fate of those who are young and alone. The United Kingdom is pledged to accommodate those most in need. The Dubs amendment originally called for 3,000 to be allowed into the United Kingdom. This was defeated and I sat on the bench in the Lords as 200 Tories marched through the Not Content lobby. These fathers, mothers and grandparents were trampling on the hopes of thousands of “other” children. Eventually an amendment was approved obliging the government to accept an unspecified number of children. We are told that throughout Europe there are 88,000 unaccompanied asylum seekers.

Human Rights Watch says that alarming numbers of migrant children in Greece are being detained in deplorable and depraved conditions. Unaccompanied minors – some as young as 14 – are being held in substandard and chaotic detention centres across the country in flagrant violation of international and Greek law, the group said in a report on Friday.

“Children are being detained for weeks and months, and are being made to live in filthy, bug-and-vermin-infested cells, sometimes without mattresses or access to showers,” said Rebecca Riddell, who authored the report.

In Camps at Calais and Dunkirk, in Island camps,and many other places it was a similar story and in the “Jungle” youngsters faced another winter. However the French President proposes that the Refugee camps at Calais and Dunkirk are to be demolished by October 31. There are more than a thousand young unaccompanied refugees in these camps The Immigration Act 2016, Dubs amendment, gives HM government an obligation to admit unaccompanied child refugees – at the most 30 have been accepted since act became law on May 10 this year.

The closure date of October 31 makes this a most urgent issue and parliament is in recess until a week on Monday! I’m urging as many as possible to to write at once to the Prime Minister to demand that UK fulfills its obligation. A mass of letters from young UK folk could help stir the government!

Meriel has a question on our first day back on October 10. Mine is, at the moment, later in the month -“What steps is Her Majesty’s Government taking to fulfill the obligation under the 2016 Immigration Act to accept unaccompanied child refugees before the camps at Calais and Dunkirk are demolished, according to the French President, on October 31

* Lord Roberts of Llandudno is a Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Sep '16 - 5:50pm

    The refugee crisis is as much a reason to criticise the EU , as to criticise the Conservative government , for it is whose fault that the French camps are lousy , and the Greek ?! Ah ! if not the EU , then the governments of those countries.

    Why should Italy and those countries in the thick of it take so many refugees , based on geography? The Germans have done so, based on humanity.

    We could , as a party , have gained , over many years , much more support for the great institutions , the BBC, the NHS, and the EU, if we , as supporters of them at their best , criticised them staunchly at their worst .We would have more credibility not less , if we did so yet , rather than leave it to the unions and managers and bureaucrats ,to extol their virtues or be completely complacent , and the populists, rightwingers, and Brexiteers, to destroy them.

    The refugee crisis needs better from all countries. Thank goodness it has better people in the Lords.

  • It all seems to point to a giant-sized gap in what the EU does – all these years after its creation.

    But huge credit to Roger for his tireless efforts in this area.

    Cadwch ati!

  • Steve Trevethan 30th Sep '16 - 7:48am

    Why do we create and worsted refugee problems for them, for fellow Eurpean nations and ourselves by attacking their countries? Why do we follow an armed conflict heavy foreign policy without even discussing the personal, economic and social consequences? Are refugees being “weaponised” for national and/or inner group purposes? We can see who suffers: who benefits?

  • Sue Sutherland 30th Sep '16 - 1:21pm

    I think an on-line petition would be great. Perhaps including an option to put your age. It’s the best way to get large numbers of people to sign in a short time. Do we have a party technology expert who could set this up? I’m not sure if we could use Change .org as it would be party political

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th Oct '16 - 12:23pm

    In April, Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration bill which sought to compel the government to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees was defeated by 294 to 276 voted.

    Yesterday my facebook page had a link to the Independent 26th April which provided a map and the names of MPs who voted for and against admitting the children to the UK. I know who I won’t be voting for at the next election.

    ‘Map: Did your MP vote for or against letting 3,000 Syrian child refugees into the UK?”

    @ Lord Roger Roberts,
    I commend you for your humanity sir.

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