The Home Office announced yesterday that it would take an extra 130 unaccompanied child refugees from within Europe under the ‘Dubs’ scheme, after ministers blamed “an administrative error” for miscalculating the number of places offered by local authorities.
The announcement means the number of unaccompanied child refugees in France, Italy and Greece brought to the UK under the scheme will be increased from 350 to 480.
Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP and the Greens’ spokesperson on migration, says:
“I welcome the government’s decision to take in an extra 130 unaccompanied child refugees who are already living within Europe’s borders. However, its claim that the U-turn is a result of an “administrative error” should raise alarm bells. To make such a grave error suggests incompetence, or worse. It’s no secret that councils have capacity to house more refugees than the government’s previous ‘Dubs’ quote of 350 – they have been shouting publicly about this for months .
The mistake also demonstrates the nonchalant approach to this humanitarian crisis taken by the Home Office. Every night they sleep rough, unaccompanied minors face further risks including sexual abuse, trafficking or disappearing off the radar altogether. It is simply unacceptable for the UK to leave any child exposed to violence and exploitation for months on end by mistake.
If the government was serious about safeguarding vulnerable children in Europe it would reopen the ‘Dubs’ scheme, and engage in ongoing consultations with local authorities about their capacity to house refugees. It would speed up the process of family reunification applications for children who have already found a way to fill out the paperwork. It would ensure that its asylum policies are clear and accessible to minors across Europe. It would do its sums right.
The Home Office should make amends for its miscalculation by ensuring that these 130 children are identified and relocated to the UK without delay.”