Tag Archives: child refugees

15 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Conservatives are gambling with our future
  • Davey: Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy
  • Wrongheaded to reject spare spaces for schools, Lib Dems warn
  • Lib Dems call on PM “not to turn your back” on child refugees
  • Govt deliberately moving away from expert advice
  • Lib Dems celebrate victory in the Lords

Conservatives are gambling with our future

Responding to the new Boris Johnson has set a deadline of July to secure a deal with the European Union, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said:

The PM is trying posture his way out of the corner that he’s backed himself into. He wants to stage manage the situation so that he can blame the EU if talks fail.

A negotiation is a two way process. We cannot expect to lay down all our red lines and never budge, as Theresa May learnt the hard way. By refusing to genuinely negotiate the Conservatives are gambling with our future.

The PM needs to ditch this reckless deadline and commit to trying to secure a deal that enables Welsh farmers and businesses to continue to have tariff-free access to our vital European markets.

Davey: Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy

Responding to reports that the PM has said there needs to be a deal done with the EU by the end of July, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Boris Johnson’s arrogant assertion that he wants a Brexit deal rushed through in a few weeks shows he still doesn’t care about the impact a bad deal could have on people’s lives.

At a time when the UK is facing the deepest recession for 300 years, it is unthinkable that the government would rush through a half-heated deal, or worse get no deal at all.

A rushed, bad Brexit deal would hit our NHS, jobs, and the economy. It would impact the most vulnerable the hardest, making life more difficult for those already struggling to make ends meet.

Johnson should stop with the bravado. Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the government to extend the transition period and commit to ensuring we agree a Brexit deal that leaves no one behind.

Wrongheaded to reject spare spaces for schools, Lib Dems warn

Responding to the Government’s new guidance for schools, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The real test of this guidance is whether it will build the confidence needed for parents, teachers and pupils to go back to school without fear of putting their health at risk.

For schools that don’t have the capacity to have more pupils return within existing guidelines, the Government must do more. That includes providing laptops and internet access to all disadvantaged children in need.

It is also wrongheaded to reject Liberal Democrat proposals to use suitable empty buildings in the community as learning spaces. Ministers should think again.

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Not the Spring Conference – F16: Welcoming Child Refugees

So, as promised, here is one of the policy motions scheduled to have been debated in York over the weekend, something that probably isn’t that controversial in Liberal Democrat circles, but I never fail to be surprised by Liberal Democrats, so let’s see what comes in…

Conference believes that:

  • Child refugees who have been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. We must do all we can to protect them.
  • The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative Government is turning

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22 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems launch national lobbying campaign urging Tory MPs to back WAB amendments
  • Govt must strip South Western Railway of their franchise

Lib Dems launch national lobbying campaign urging Tory MPs to back WAB amendments

The Liberal Democrats have launched a national lobbying campaign urging Conservative MP’s to “restore public faith in politics” and back amendments in the House of Commons to protect the rights of EU citizens and child refugees in the UK.

The campaign was launched after Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords handed Boris Johnson his first parliamentary defeat since the election by passing three amendments to the …

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21 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Every child has a right to RSE
  • Govt must invest to demonstrate it values teachers
  • Welsh Lib Dems: UK Government must rethink Withdrawal Bill
  • Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties

Responding to the Government’s announcement of new counter-terror legislation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

If you could stop terrorism by passing illiberal new laws, the Conservatives would have ended it ages ago.

It’s less than a year since the Conservatives passed their last piece of unnecessary, reactionary legislation in the name of combatting

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20 January 2020 – yesterday’s press releases

Apologies for the delay, press release fans! Unfortunately, the Parish Council I chair ran late, so I wasn’t able to get these up last night…

  • Young people deserve a clear, unambiguous commitment to Erasmus
  • Ministers must explain to Parliament why HS2 costs have soared
  • Lib Dems urge Govt to extend provision of free period products
  • PM must put child refugees above politics
  • Lib Dem peers defeat Govt on vote to protect EU citizens’ rights
  • PM negotiating deadline with EU woefully unrealistic
  • Lib Dems inflict another defeat on Govt’s Brexit Bill

Young people deserve a clear, unambiguous commitment to Erasmus

Responding to reports the Government is extending an exchange scheme …

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Our MP voted against helping child refugees – and I’m angry

Our MP’s work on behalf of their constituents – or at least they are supposed to. That’s supposed to be an important principle of our democracy. But in recent days Cheltenham’s MP, Alex Chalk has voted and supported the government in NOT providing help to unaccompanied refugee children. I’m saddened, disappointed and upset, let me explain why.

Cheltenham has bucket-loads of kindness, empathy and compassion. This I’m sure is replicated across the country, and throughout our history this has been highlighted time and again in how we all have responded to natural disasters or humanitarian crisis.

Whenever and wherever …

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11-12 January 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees
  • Lib Dems demand statement on arrest of British ambassador to Iran
  • Lib Dems demand reform to protect High Street retailers

Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees

Responding to an NGO report calling for child refugees to be given the right to sponsor close family members to join them, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to support their bill that would do just that.

Without My Family, a report published today by Amnesty International, the Refugee Council and Save the Children, criticises the …

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8 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Iran’s actions on US airbases “unacceptable”
  • Johnson’s hard negotiation deadline is unrealistic
  • Farron: Child refugees vote reveals Tory MPs’ true colours
  • Johnson’s govt must stand up to use of death penalty abroad
  • UK Govt must not abandon Iran Nuclear Treaty

Iran’s actions on US airbases “unacceptable”

Responding to Iran’s missile strikes on US airbases in Iraq, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Iran’s actions against US airbases last night were unacceptable and should be unequivocally condemned.

It is vital Boris Johnson does all he can to ensure dialogue and a de-escalation of this intensifying situation.

The Prime Minister must also take every step

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Why I’m angry that the Government has abandoned its commitments to child refugees

On Friday night I was on my way home from a wonderfully festive day with amazing colleagues who spend huge amounts of time and energy helping vulnerable people solve their problems. I was feeling at peace with the world. Then I made the mistake of logging onto twitter and I saw some news that changed my mood completely.

Our new government had sneaked some amendments into their revised version of the Brexit withdrawal bill. Despite repeated promises to the contrary Boris Johnson has dropped the government’s commitments to work to reunite unaccompanied refugee children in Europe with their families here in the UK. 

Suddenly I found myself both blood boilingly angry and on the verge of tears. A year and half ago I spent three weeks volunteering with an educational charity in the refugee “camps” of Northern France. Whilst there I met numerous unaccompanied teenagers, some as young as twelve and thirteen. They had all experienced harrowing journeys to get that far often being exposed to traffickers, police violence and unimaginable destitution. These were our continent’s most vulnerable children; they had witnessed things that no one should ever see, especially as a child. They were alone in the world and facing hostile state authorities and abuse on all sides. We volunteers had one tool in our arsenal to get those children to safety quickly; the Dubs protections. 

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17 July 2019 – today’s press releases

May’s Govt has treated victims of child trafficking appallingly

Following reports that hundreds of child trafficking victims have been refused the right to stay in the UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Theresa May said that modern slavery is the greatest human rights issue of our time, but these revelations show that her government has treated victims appallingly.

The Government has a clear moral obligation to support children who have been trafficked to this country and held in slavery. The Conservatives’ failure shames our whole country.

The Liberal Democrats demand better protections for vulnerable people. Anyone who has

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Lord Roberts is fighting to protect child asylum seekers

On Tuesday, the Lord Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, asked the following question in the House of Lords:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Project 17’s report Not Seen, Not Heard: Children’s experiences of the hostile environment.

Liberal Democrat Lord Roger Roberts responded with a speech fully in support of protecting children seeking asylum in this country, extracts of which are here:

I want a world fit for children to live in, a world where the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is respected in all parts. We talk of so many people who, because of various circumstances, do not receive this care. This could be because of famine, disease, conflict, poverty and so much else. I think the UN’s latest figure was that about 66 million people are in some sort of statelessness. There are nearly 100,000 unaccompanied children in Europe alone. I would love to say that we can resolve all these problems and help every child, but we do not have a magic wand. However, we do have the ability to remove many obstacles and transform the world of thousands of children.

On a worldwide scale, in the last two months, the conflict in Syria has led to 544 deaths, 100 of which were children. In the same area, unregistered migrants in Turkey have been rounded up and many have been returned to areas where death is a great possibility. On the other side of the Atlantic, on the Mexico-United States border, we have pictures of a little girl drowning in her father’s arms and we read of the President’s intention to round up unregistered immigrants.

But would the UK treat its asylum seekers any better? If we distance ourselves from Europe and co-operation with European countries, will things be better? If we give up our co-operation with countries such as Italy, Greece and France, will conditions improve? Will the kids have a better life? How will Brexit improve the condition of unaccompanied children in Europe? How will Brexit affect the work of the churches, especially the Catholic Church, and their pan-European activity to help refugees? There are many other organisations which deserve the most wonderful praise for all the work they are doing. They know no borders, but the UK is now guilty, with the whole attitude of the hostile environment, of digging ditches instead of building bridges. We are doing something that in itself will cause children to suffer.

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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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    Item was response to a measure that proposes cutting off one existing supply of care workers whilst offering nothing to bring forward the 'young people'...
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