A Jewish peer who escaped the Nazis has criticised the government for doing “very little indeed” to help child refugees.
Lord Alf Dubs criticised the government’s inaction in the three months since it agreed to take in unaccompanied child refugees stranded in Europe.
The Labour peer, who came to the UK on the wartime Kindertransport scheme for Jewish children fleeing the Nazis had previously tabled a parliamentary amendment to put pressure on ministers to take in child migrants.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One on Wednesday he said: “I don’t think any unaccompanied child refugees have actually got here. The few who have got here are ones that have relatives here who have come under a different scheme called Dublin III, and most of those are still stuck in Calais. They could come immediately.
“Every extra of delay means children who are vulnerable are in greater danger. We are talking about young people who’ve been on the move, travelling from distant countries, facing persecution, escaping war and escaping death. These people are vulnerable – young people sleeping rough with nobody to look after them, not going to school, liable to be taken into criminality and into prostitution, liable to be trafficked.”
Lord Dubs warned: “The trouble is, with no hope, they are doing the dangerous thing of trying to climb on the back of a lorry and some of them are getting killed in the process. It’s too dangerous for them, the Government should move.”
His comments come as a House of Commons committee said that dozens of children with relatives in Britain should be brought to the country from Calais migrant camps.
MPs said 157 unaccompanied youngsters who have family members in the UK “should already have arrived”. The Commons Home Affairs Committee said in a report: “The Government should, as a one-off action, accept all of these children into the UK now.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, added that it was “unacceptable” that the children have still not been brought to the UK.
Evidence from experts and volunteers said the conditions in migrant camps are “absolutely atrocious” and “directly causing suffering and ill health for many residents”, the report said.