Updated 8 March 2017.
- An amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill was defeated in Parliament on Tue 7 March 287 to 267 despite significant cross party support. This followed the House of Commons motion on unaccompanied children that was passed by 254 votes to 1 in a deferred vote on Wed 1 March 2017, but it was not binding on the Government. It included a call on the Government ‘to continue to monitor local authority capacity for further transfers of children under the Dubs scheme, consulting with local authorities at least once every financial year’. See Focus on Refugees for more details.
- UK Home Office has agreed to review asylum applications from child refugees in France – details from Focus on Refugees.
- Charity Home for Good is asking Church leaders to sign a statement.
- Charity Help Refugees is challenging the scheme’s closure in a judicial review saying the Government has failed to properly implement the Dubs Amendment. The case is likely to be heard between 2-4 May 2017.
Church leaders, Christian and other organisations have criticised the UK Government’s announcement to close Lord Dubs unaccompanied child refugee scheme.
You can sign the petition against the closure of the scheme on Citizens UK website.
Charity Home for Good is asking Church leaders to sign a statement against the closure of the Dubs transfer scheme. Signatories include Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union, the Rev Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, the Revd Canon Billy Kennedy, Leader of the Pioneer Network, and Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance.
For detailed news and analysis of how the churches are responding to the refugee crisis see Focus on Refugees.
Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Quakers in Britain, United Reformed Church and Methodist Church
In a joint letter to the Home Secretary, the leaders of five churches have expressed their concern at the Government’s announcement that it intends to suspend the programme.
The statement points out the potentially damaging effect of signalling to already vulnerable minors that they are unlikely to find safe passage and re-settlement if they make themselves known to relevant authorities. They say there is compelling evidence showing that many such children have simply ‘disappeared’ from the temporary refugee camps.
For full details see the Methodist Church in Britain website.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols is urging the UK Government to work with renewed vigour to assist unaccompanied child refugees.
‘By repealing Art.67 of the Immigration Act 2016, known as the Dubs Amendment, the Government is seen by many as abandoning its statutory and moral duty to take effective action for the protection of vulnerable, unaccompanied child refugees. If this is the case, then it is truly shocking.’
Read the whole statement from Cardinal Nichols on the Catholic Church in England and Wales website.
Bishop Paul McAleenan, said: ‘The entire international community has a duty to protect refugees, especially unaccompanied children who are often most vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking.
‘In addition to its aid and resettlement programmes in the region, I hope that our government will continue working with other European countries to identify and support unaccompanied children on their journey to safety.’
See the Catholic Church in England and Wales website for the full statement.
Church of England
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: ‘I was saddened and shocked to read in the Ministerial statement released yesterday that only 350 children will be received under the regulations in the Dubs Amendment. Our country has a great history of welcoming those in need, particularly the most vulnerable, such as unaccompanied children’.
Bishop of Croydon, Jonathon Clark, who chairs the Churches Refugee Network (CRN), commented: ‘I am hugely disappointed at this decision. It is important to point out that the Dubs amendment, as Alf Dubs originally put it forward, proposed a commitment to 3,000 children and ministers signalled that the Government would abide by the spirit of the original amendment’.
Bishop of Bradwell
— Bishop of Bradwell (@johnwraw) February 10, 2017
Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
Vitally important we keep commitment to welcome most vulnerable child refugees. Praying government will urgently reconsider today’s decision https://t.co/4wM08fExWf
— Paul Williams (@BishopPaulW) February 9, 2017
Bishop of St Albans
— Alan Smith (@BishopStAlbans) February 9, 2017
Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church in Scotland
The Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church in Scotland have jointly condemned the decision to only accept 350 vulnerable refugee children under the ‘Dubs scheme’.
Spokespersons for both churches said that they were ‘shocked and disappointed’ by the ‘reprehensible’ situation to stop the programme at ‘fewer than 12% of the original commitment of 3000 children’.
‘We are aware that many of these children have disappeared and their situation is complex. But it is hard to think of anyone more vulnerable. A decision to end the Dubs resettlement now is premature and lacks both compassion and ambition.
‘We urge UK Government ministers to reconsider and we remain willing to work with the Home Office to find creative ways to deliver on the widespread expectation on the part of the general public to achieve the goal of 3,000 children as soon as possible’.
Read the full statement on the Church of Scotland website.
Christian Aid has condemned the UK government’s decision to close the scheme.
Tom Viita, Head of Advocacy at Christian Aid, said: ‘Protecting people fleeing their homes is no one country’s responsibility – it demands global cooperation. Today’s announcement is not only a broken promise to vulnerable children, but a rejection of our international responsibilities’.
You can read the full response on the Christian Aid Collective website.
Citizens UK petition
Citizens UK has started a petition against the closure of the scheme with a statement by Lord Alf Dubs.
You can sign the petition against the closure of the Dubs Scheme for refugee children on the Citizens UK website.
Church response to the refugee crisis
See our dedicated page for more details of how the churches are responding to the refugee crisis.