Dubs amendment: Scheme to help unaccompanied child migrants set to close

The Dubs amendment was intended to help the UK resettle unaccompanied refugee children Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA
  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan.

A scheme set up to provide children caught up in Europe's migrant crisis with a safe route into the UK is being scrapped just months after it was established, it has emerged.

The so-called Dubs Amendment - which requires the Government to relocate unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe - has not been given an official closure date but the move was swiftly branded "shameful" by the Lord that it is named after.

Lord Dubs said: "At a time when Donald Trump is banning refugees from America, it would be shameful if the UK followed suit by closing down this route to sanctuary for unaccompanied children just months after it was opened."

The Home Office said it is "not giving up on vulnerable children who are fleeing conflict and danger."

Campaigners who fought for the Dubs Amendment had hoped it would be used to welcome at least 3,000 stranded children to the UK but Wednesday's announcement revealed that just 200 have so far arrived through the route and only another 150 will arrive before its closure.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill assured ministers the Government will continue to meet its obligations under the Dublin Regulation covering family reunion cases and accept responsibility for processing asylum claims in future.

A Home Office spokeswoman added: "Thanks to the goodwill of the British public and local authorities, in the last year alone we have provided refuge or other forms of leave to more than 8,000 children.

"Our commitment to resettle 350 unaccompanied children from Europe is just one way we are helping."

The Dubs amendment was intended to help the UK resettle unaccompanied refugee children Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA
Campaigners hoped the Dubs amendment would hope thousands of children who had been living in the now cleared 'Calais Jungle' migrant camp Credit: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA

Lord Dubs led a backlash against the decision on Wednesday, arguing it would be a "terrible betrayal" of Lord Sir Nicky Winton who rescued hundreds of children during the Kindertransport years.

He said: "During the Kindertransport Sir Nicky Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution virtually single-handedly. I was one of those lucky ones.

"It would be a terrible betrayal of his legacy if as a country we were unable to do more than this to help a new generation of child refugees."

The Lords comments were swiftly backed by other ministers who were outraged at the decision.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “My colleague Lords Alf Dubs is right, this is shutting the door on the most vulnerable. The Government must end these efforts to prevent refugees arriving here. This is not who we are.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called it a "betrayal of these vulnerable children and a betrayal of British values".

And Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley described the announcement as "an absolute disgrace".

David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group, thanked councils across the country for their help with the scheme so far.

He said: "Councils demonstrated tremendous leadership at a local, regional and national level in resettling the children from the Calais camp.

"The number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children living in England increased by more than 50% to over 4,000 in the last year, and the vast majority of councils are already providing care and support for these vulnerable children and young people."