Lord Alf Dubs, who entered the UK after fleeing Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, has called on the Government to show “more humanity and intelligence” to child refugees “than the Chamberlain government did to the Jewish people”.
In a letter, also signed by actresses Vanessa Redgrave and Aislin McGuckin, Lord Dubs requested Theresa May’s “urgent intervention” in reuniting children living in the “Jungle” camp in Calais with their families in the UK.
The trio said post-Brexit Britain offered a “platform” for politicians to make progress with the refugee crisis, as they delivered the letter to Downing Street.
Charity Citizens UK suggests there are 170 children in Calais “with a right to relocate to Britain in order to reunite with their families,” the letter, addressed to the new Prime Minister, states.
“If the rights of these children are not upheld they are left with an appalling choice between train tracks on the one hand, and the very traffickers you have challenged every step of your career since you became Home Secretary in 2010,” it says.
It adds: “I deeply hope that your government may show more humanity and intelligence than the Chamberlain government showed to the Jewish people until after Kristallnacht in mid-November 1938.”
Lord Dubs said “political will” was needed to remove children from the “appalling” conditions in Calais.
“They have every legal and moral right to be with their families in the UK,” he said.
“It is shameful that they remain stuck in a field, surrounded by strangers, between two of the world’s richest countries.”
The group dismissed suggestions that a rise in hate crimes meant less support for accommodating refugees.
“I believe public opinion is on our side to bring these children over here,” Lord Dubs said.
“I’m convinced that British people have got this humanitarian wish that these children should be here. We can give some of them, at least, safety in this country.”
Outlander star McGuckin added: “There is a platform here for the government to maybe take charge, bring leadership, give us some hope. Give hope to these 170 children.”
“The majority of people in Britain are very, very conscientious people and they help whenever they can, and they donate money even if they’ve got nothing much themselves,” Redgrave said.
“That’s been my experience throughout my life and today. British people will always help if they know the real situation.”