Concern over plight of child refugees

Web syrian refugee children in one of the tented camps in beqaa lebanon.

Scots and Welsh governments fear resettlement scheme is failing children 

24th July 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A joint letter to the UK immigration minister from the Scottish and Welsh governments has raised concerns about the plight of unaccompanied child refugees.

Communities secretary Angela Constance and her Welsh Government counterpart Carl Sargeant criticised the "lack of planning and sharing of useful information" in the Dubs scheme to resettle the children.

The scheme closed after resettling just 480 unaccompanied minors from Europe, a figure well below the 3,000 campaigners had called for.

The letter states: "From the start of the implementation of this scheme, we have struggled with the lack of information that has been forthcoming from those running this operation.

"This continues to be the case and we are aware that only a couple of hundred unaccompanied children have been transferred of the 480 placements identified."

The devolved ministers also backed a recommendation from the parliamentary human trafficking inquiry that the Dubs scheme "needs to be open to more children in practice and more children need to be included" including expanding criteria, urgent application processing and teams on the ground in Dunkirk and Calais.

They also highlighted the inquiry finding that no evidence was found to support the assertion that continuing the programme indefinitely will act as a "pull factor" and encourage traffickers.

Instead, the inquiry found that leaving the children without "safe and legal options" put them at greater risk of trafficking.

UK ministers say they are committed to resettling up to 3,000 children and families from the Middle East and North Africa, in addition to the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Local authorities across the country are currently supporting more than 4,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children, they said.

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis said: "We are committed to fulfilling our commitment under the Dubs scheme as soon as possible and ensuring that children arrive in the UK safely. This is just one aspect of a much wider response.

"We have committed to resettling 23,000 people directly from regions of conflict and last year we granted protection, or another form of leave, to over 8,000 children.

"We are grateful for the support Scotland and Wales have provided and we have made clear our intention to extend the National Transfer Scheme to the rest of the UK so their local authorities can fully participate.”