Lord Dubs, the Jewish-born peer whose life was saved by coming to Britain from Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport as a child of six, this week paid fulsome tribute to the synagogues in the UK for their work on helping refugees and asylum seekers.
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton jointly organised by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and JCore, the Jewish Campaign for Racial Equality, Lord Dubs urged everyone in the audience to challenge their local MPs and councils about taking child refugees into the UK.
Lord Dubs is the author of the so-called “Dubs Amendment”, a legal measure aimed at bringing 3,000 refugees into Britain. But he and lawyer Sarah Sackman, with whom he has worked over the last several years, both said that the government had broken its word, and that only less than 300 people had arrived. The government, Lord Dubs said, had claimed that local authorities were not able to provide sufficient foster places for the children, which he called “deeply shocking — and a lie”.
He said he did not like people telling him he was only campaigning for refugees because of having been one himself. But, he said, “It does make it difficult for the government when I approach them, so why shouldn’t we use it?”
Lord Dubs praised synagogue communities for showing “a level of commitment in dealing with this issue” that almost outstripped other faiths. And, describing himself as a humanist rather than an identifying Jew, he nevertheless spoke of the “warmth and welcome” which he had received in synagogues when invited to speak about the refugee issue.
He revealed that he was urging the government to keep the admission of refugees scheme open, even after Brexit.