Tag Archives: child refugees

Roger Roberts on bringing hope to the most vulnerable

Lib Dem peer Roger Roberts spoke powerfully in the House of Lords this week on the subject of child refugees. He pleaded with the Government to reinstate the Dubs 3000 refugee children commitment. Here’s his speech in full.

My Lords, I am grateful for this opportunity. First, I will quote a friend who was there when the bulldozers came to demolish the camps in Dunkirk and Calais 12 months ago. He said that,

“after I visited the Calais refugee camp, I still have an image in my head, which I’m sure will be with me for the rest of my life. When I arrived at the camp, there were police in riot gear everywhere. There was a pastor standing, holding what was left of two religious buildings—a blue cross, which once stood atop the camp’s church. The look of complete despair. This was a man who had had the last bit of hope ripped away from him. To remove a religious symbol, a place of hope and prayer, from people who have only the clothes they are wearing and a shelter that is surrounded by mud, must be one of the worst, most inhumane things that I have ever witnessed”.

The demolition is not only of the camps, but of hope—replaced by despair. The refugees housed there were dispersed to different locations in France. The agreement was that the UK Home Office would go to all the “welcome centres”, as they were called, and do proper assessments of the young people and their claims. However, the evidence is that the interviews lasted no more than five minutes, and no interpreters were present. A few of the claimants were brought to the United Kingdom in the winter period, but those who qualified under the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, were ignored. Many who had a strong Dublin III claim were also overlooked. People who backed Brexit must realise that the Dublin EU regulations will no longer be there for the UK if we come out of the European Union. Another strand of hope will be gone.

There is evidence, reported by Professor Sue Clayton in her film, “Calais Children”, that in the welcome centres facilities were mixed. Some were good, but others not so, with no medical facilities, not enough food, opposition from local populations and many other problems. Hope was not rebuilt. Calais Action and other refugee organisations are still active in Calais; they are back there. Many refugees returned to Calais and, this very day, sleep in fields, forests and ditches. They dream of being physically present in the United Kingdom, where they have family—and they have the language. They gather at points of transit, in Calais itself, Dunkirk, Brussels and Zeebrugge. They risk their lives on illegal routes.

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Compassion Fatigue? Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

On Wednesday there was the announcement that we would not take any more child refugees. Noticeable that the government released this statement the same day of the Brexit vote! And this story was not even on front pages yesterday.

Lib Dems had campaigned for the UK to take 3000 unaccompanied minors. Many others lobbied, including Lord Alf Dubs, and this resulted in the so-called Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act 2016.

Where is our compassion? Should we not be taking in the most vulnerable victims of horrendous conflicts that have caused children to flee their own country? This saga has gone on for too long, and now the news that the UK will not accept more. The 350 children we will have taken by the end of March is far fewer than other countries have done. Based on our size and wealth, we should feel an obligation to take so many more children. But we don’t seem to have a heart anymore.

I was at a seminar on Wednesday convened by Lord Roberts in the House of Lords about how to better support unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Representatives from the Refugee Council, Amnesty, UNICEF and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association all spoke. This was before the news broke on not taking any more refugee children. The ideas of what the UK should do (and the assumption was that we would be taking more children) were:

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York responds on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

 

Around this time last year, I posted on Lib Dem Voice about York’s role in responding to the refugee crisis. I am very pleased that over the last year, York has been active in the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme and in welcoming refugees to the city. We have a proud history of offering a home to those fleeing persecution and will continue our work to meet our humanitarian commitments.

A closely associated issue, increasingly prominent over the last few months, has been that of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Tim Farron and Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords have campaigned strongly for the government to do a huge amount more on this front. Early this year, Tim slammed the government’s response as ‘cold-hearted’ and ‘callous’. He was absolutely right – we were failing people who are the least able to help themselves. After months of pressure, the government accepted a commitment to resettle ‘up to 3,000’ children from within Europe.

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Dublin versus Dubs

 

Whilst the Home Secretary hails the arrival of 312 unaccompanied asylum seeking children as “a really good result”, the fact remains that domestic legislation allows for the UK to positively impact the lives of hundreds – even thousands – more children.

To explain, unaccompanied asylum seeking children can be brought to the UK under one of two systems. Firstly, the Family Reunification provisions of the Dublin III Regulations allow for asylum seekers who have family members who have already received international protection in another state to be transferred to join those family members and have their asylum claim determined by that country. This is rooted in EU asylum policy – meaning the Government has no choice but to comply with the legislation, and there is no limit to the number of children who can be brought to the UK.

On the other hand, the Dubs system of transfer allows for an unspecified number of unaccompanied children with or without family in the UK to be transferred into British care, providing that they arrived in Europe before 20th March 2016 and that it is deemed to be in the child’s “best interests” to be relocated. Thus, many children who may have been excluded from coming to the UK under the Dublin Regulations because they do not have family members in the UK, may now fall under the criteria of the Dubs amendment.

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Gary Lineker – a welcome voice of humanity


Gary Lineker has taken a bit of stick this week for comments (such as the one above) on Twitter. The Sun went to town on him and there were calls for him to be sacked from the BBC.

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: Forcing teenagers back to war zones another example of Tory inhumanity

“Inhumanity” is a word that you should use with caution, but when you are looking at a Government that has no compunction about sending child asylum seekers back to war zones the minute they turn 18, when they may have grown up here and have nothing left to go back to, then they’ve earned it.

Roger Roberts is laying down a marker for the future as this country prepares to take in some unaccompanied child refugees. What will become of them when they turn 18? Will they be sent back to a devastated Syria where they may have no connections, no …

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Tim Farron MP writes…The Government must deliver for refugee children 

In October 2015 I used my first PMQ as leader to urge David Cameron to give a home to 3,000 vulnerable unaccompanied children who had fled war and persecution and were now in Europe. Save the Children, who launched the campaign, had calculated that 3,000 was the UK’s ‘fair share’ of the 26,000 unaccompanied children estimated to have arrived in Europe since the start of the refugee crisis. Six months on and with the numbers of unaccompanied children in Europe having skyrocketed to 90,000 the Government has finally capitulated in principle to take some children from Europe.What started as a …

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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:

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Farron holds summit aimed at helping refugee children

As we told you on Monday, Tim Farron got representatives from charities, NGOs and political parties round the table today to work on a practical plan for the UK to accept 3000 unaccompanied child refugees who have reached Europe.

Among those attending were Save the Children, UNICEF, Islington Law Council, Kent Refugee Action Network, Refugee Council, Homes for Good, Coram, Barnardo’s, British Red Cross, ECPAT UK, Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign, The Children’s Society, ILPA and the Local government Association. Also, Leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas MP, Margaret Greenwood (Labour) MP, Heidi Allen MP (Conservative) and Mark Durkan MP (SDLP) came along.

Tim told the meeting:

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    Sorry, I mean of course 'a Liberal ' in his youth, he wasn't psychic too!
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