Despite appeals from children's charities, the government yesterday voted to scrap legal protections for lone child refugees. MPs voted down a House of Lords amendment to Brexit legislation, which would have guaranteed family reunion rights for unaccompanied child refugees after EU withdrawal. The legislation was passed by a margin of 342 votes to 254 - a majority of 88.
Tabled by Lord Dubs, who came to England fleeing Nazi Germany as a child refugee on the Kindertransport, the amendment had been passed by peers by 300 to 220 on Tuesday.
Lord Alf Dubs said: "This is very disappointing news, especially given the public statement made by this government which suggested that they shared the public's wish to help child refugees. We still have moral obligations to these children who simply want to be reunited with their families here."
Beth Gardiner-Smith, CEO of Safe Passage said: "The Government won this vote in the Commons by promising it will do everything it can to keep refugee family reunion open after Brexit. The Government must keep its word to unaccompanied children, to Parliament and to people across the country who believe that Britain should do its bit to help refugees reunite with family here in Britain.
"We will be watching very closely to make sure that the right to reunite with family isn't quietly watered down by this Government. In addition, Government Ministers have indicated they will bring forward legal protections in an Immigration Bill later this year, and we will be holding them to this commitment.
"Many of the children we support have lost their parents but they have grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles living in the UK and ready to care for them. It is illogical that these children be denied safe passage to the UK, left with no other choice but to consider smuggling just to reach their loved ones, or to grow up alone without the care of their family many surviving in camps and car parks across Europe."
There are believed to be more than 4,000 unaccompanied refugee children on Lesbos, Greece, and several hundred in northern France. The majority of them are living outside formal camps.
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