A Syrian child refugee with “Jewish heritage” has arrived at the UK Visas and Immigration office in Croydon, along with other unaccompanied children fleeing the war-torn region.
The unidentified English-speaking boy reportedly told social workers that his Judaism was “important” to him – prompting community calls for a recognised Jewish foster- carer to assist with his temporary and long-term placement.
Jewish News understands that West London Synagogue is taking a leading role in this urgent search.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi of the Reform Movement, who has made numerous visits to the so-called Calais ‘jungle” in northern France from where many of the children have been transferred, told Jewish News: “When Jews look across at refugees in Europe, we see a reflection of ourselves. We’ve campaigned and stood up as one community willing to help. Now’s the time to act on our promise. Now that children are coming here from Calais, I know we’ll see our shuls and homes open to helping refugees and to returning the care and sanctuary we ourselves received in Britain.”
Many of the children who have arrived in the UK have come here as a result of the successful “Dubs Amendment”, a landmark piece of legislation put forward by the former Kindertransport child refugee, Lord Dubs, now a Labour peer.
His amendment committed the government to accept at least 3,000 unaccompanied minors, particularly the most vulnerable, from camps in France, Italy and Greece. The French authorities began razing the Calais camp this week and it is understood at least 500 children may be eligible from Calais alone.
Lord Dubs greeted the initial arrival of some children as “a great start”. He said: “I’m delighted that, at long last, it has finally happened and children who qualify under the amendment are being brought to safety. We must remember there is much more to do and many more children who need protection, but this is a great start”.