UK Government must not close doors on child refugees

The UK government has this week announced plans to close the "Dubs amendment" scheme to settle unaccompanied refugee children in the UK. 

Following a slow start, the amendment - designed by Lord Dubs, a Freedom from Torture supporter and refugee who came to Britain on the Kindertransport programme for Jewish children escaping the Nazis - has so far brought 200 children to the UK. However, the scheme will now be closed after another 150 children are settled in the UK, despite hopes that the UK could help 3,000 vulnerable children, of the estimated 90,000 unaccompanied children across Europe. 

A petition by Lord Dubs urging the government to keep the scheme open has attracted more than 40,000 signatures so far on the Citizens UK website.

Susan Munroe, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, said:

"We are dismayed to see the government closing the door ever tighter on child refugees, who desperately need a place of safety. Our patron Lord Alf Dubs fought hard across party lines to have the so-called Dubs amendment accepted by the government. Now, after such a short time, and with so few children accepted under the amendment, it is to be ended.

"The UK should be proud of its long history of helping refugees and the Prime Minister should now be showing leadership in support of refugee protection. The problem hasn’t gone away and there are still many vulnerable children in Europe who deserve and need our help.

"These children cannot be left to suffer further trauma and exploitation while they are on the move in Europe and beyond. Without a place of sanctuary, these children are prey to smugglers and traffickers, deprived of food and health care, and without hope for the future.

"We see the challenges these children face every day, with referrals to our doctors and therapists of unaccompanied children who have fled torture. In 2016, 35 separated children and young people were referred to Freedom from Torture.

"We urge the government to reconsider its position to show compassion to children, many having experienced or witnessed torture and through no fault of their own, are forced to become refugees."

Freedom from Torture is also signatory to the February 2017 Refugee Children's Consortium statement (PDF) on separated children.

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