The Jewish peer who spearheaded the campaign to bring child refugees to Britain has welcomed the government’s move to finally lift the barrier on their entry into the UK.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes made the announcement that she was removing the cut-off date criterion from applications for the most vulnerable unaccompanied children to seek sanctuary in a written ministerial statement.
The move means the long-stalled plan to allow 480 unaccompanied children from Europe under the so-called ‘Dubs amendment’, named after Lord Alf Dubs, will now be fulfilled. Only 220 have been let in from the so-called Calais Jungle refugee camp since 2016.
The minister said: “Following discussion with delivery partners, we have decided to remove the date criterion for when children had to have arrived in Europe to qualify for transfer to the UK. This decision means that participating states – France, Greece and Italy – will now be able to refer the most vulnerable children, regardless of when they arrived into Europe.”
Speaking to Jewish News, Lord Alf Dubs, a Kindertransport refugee, said he is “glad they did it. It means more refugees will be able to come here than before.”
He added, “that on the 80th anniversary of the kindertransport when Britain took 10,000 children in a year, we ask that Britain should commit to taking 10,000 children over the next 10 years. A thousand a year, or three per local authority.”
The Kindertransport brought about 10,000 children aged between three and 17 to safety from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in the lead up to the Second World War.
Most were Jewish and more than half the children never saw their parents again. Earlier this week, it was announced that the German government was going to compensate Kinder with a one-off payment. All are eligible for a payment of £2,245.
Asked if he thought the government had acted too slowly, allowing just 220 refugees in out of the intended 480, he said, “well, yes, but it’s better that they’ve done it than not done it.
“There are lot of things that I wish the government had done faster. I wish they hadn’t kept the numbers at 480 which they did fairly arbitrarily. But having said all that, let’s welcome the announcement they made.”
The Jewish Council of Racial Equality also welcomed “any changes that will make it easier for refugee children and young people to find safety in the UK.”
“We are concerned however that it has taken so long for this relatively small number to come here given the terrible conditions that the estimated 10,000 lone children and young people face daily throughout Europe.
“We want to see a Government commitment to reunite refugee families and to make sure these families are given the support they need to restart their lives.”
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