The future for lone child refugees in Europe “surrounded by sex traffickers and people smugglers” looks grim unless the British government acts quickly - Lord Alf Dubs told a meeting he hosted in the House of Lords on Wednesday, 12 September.
Around 35 people from the Safe Passage campaign and their supporters, among them faith leaders, and representatives from Citizens UK, together with five to six participants on remote video from around the country - took part to report on their work rescuing refugee children from northern France.
One participant was Barbara Winton, whose parents supported the Kindertransport, which rescued Jewish children from the Nazia shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939. A child they assisted was Alf Dubs, who went on to become Lord Dubs. Barbara said her father was a man of action and instilled in his children, that when faced with injustice “the need to try even if you don’t know the outcome. You act because you know it’s the right thing to do.”
Ishmael, who spoke at the meeting, is one of the 850 children who made it to the UK from Calais in October, a year ago, under the Dubs Amendment. He is the first of those children to attend university and receive a scholarship to London University of London, which he starts in the autumn.
Ishmael described being rescued from the horrors of “the Jungle” and having the opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive, thanks to the Dubs Amendment. He said it’s not just the Calais refugee children that need help, but also those stuck in Greece, Italy and Cyprus too. Ismael said: "I am so thankful for the British people who have helped me and who I am surrounded by.”
Lord Dubs stressed the urgency to keep pressure on the government to bring unaccompanied refugee children to safety here in the UK. Since ‘the Jungle’ was bulldozed in Calais, scattering refugee children, it has increased the difficulty of tracking and gathering these children to transport to the UK. They are now without shelter, a place to gather for help and are surrounded by sex traffickers and people smugglers. “For these children the outlook is grim” he said.
Lord Dubs said he is disappointed in government and fears that the Dubs Amendment will come to a halt when the Immigration Bill, which is connected with Brexit comes up in January. He encouraged and thanked all volunteers, agencies and organisations for their past efforts and contributions so far, and urged everyone to not just keep up the pace but also increase efforts before it’s too late. Lord Dubs said personally written letters to Councillors and MPs are more effective than electronic letters. From experience he has noted that a group electronic letter is counted as one letter while each personal letter gets the individual count. He also encourages everyone to write feedback to both their Councillor and MP on what they have learned regarding the plight of refugee children and government’s response. Lord Dubs said: “Its people like you that help to keep me going!”.
Read more about Safe Passage here: http://safepassage.org.uk
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate