This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government
Petition Keep open the 'Dubs scheme' to resettle 3000 unaccompanied refugee children.
The Home Office has announced that the 'Dubs scheme' to resettle unaccompanied refugee children in the UK will close after just 350 children are helped. At the time of its creation, campaigners called for it to aid 3000 children. The UK is turning its back on the most vulnerable people in the world.
The 'Dubs scheme' is named after Lord Dubs, who got an amendment to the Immigration Act passed last year. His amendment did not specify a number of children, but campaigners made clear that thousands of vulnerable refugee children were stranded and alone, and called on the UK government to help up to 3000 of them. Announcing that the scheme will only help 350 children - about one for every local authority - is a callous, inhumane act which leaves children at huge risk of deprivation and abuse.
This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website
This Government has and will continue to contribute significantly to hosting, supporting and protecting the most vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis.
Read the response in full
The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it. In 2016, we transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from Europe to the UK including more than 750 from France as part of the UK’s support for the Calais camp clearance. Over 200 children have already arrived in the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016; this is almost as many unaccompanied children as the entire EU relocation scheme. We continue to work with our European partners to meet our obligations under the Dublin Regulation.
In total, in 2016, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to over 8,000 children.
By the end of 2020, we will have resettled 20,000 Syrian nationals through our Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, one of the biggest resettlement schemes this country has ever undertaken, and a further 3,000 of the most vulnerable children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa region under the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. A total of 7,307 people have been granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian VPRS since the scheme began.
Crucially, our resettlement schemes help ensure that children do not become unaccompanied. They allow children to be resettled with their family members, before they become unaccompanied, and before attempting perilous journeys to Europe.
The Government has not ended its commitment to section 67. We announced, following consultation with local authorities, that we will transfer the specified number of 480 children to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. It has never been the case, as has been suggested, that the Government would accept 3,000 children from Europe under section 67 of the Immigration Act or that this would be an ongoing obligation. Parliament voted against the proposal to accept 3,000 children. The legislation is clear that the Government has the obligation to specify the number of children to be relocated, after consultation with local authorities, and to relocate that number of children to the UK.
The Government remains fully committed to implementing the next phase of transfers under section 67. In March 2017 we published the criteria under which additional transfers of unaccompanied children from Europe will take place. The Government has invited referrals of children who meet the eligibility criteria. We are working very closely with the French, Greek and Italian authorities, the UNHCR and NGOs. Our secondees in Greece and Italy are working on transfers of unaccompanied children to the UK under both the Dublin Regulation and section 67.
We have launched the National Transfer Scheme to ensure a fairer distribution of the estimated 4,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in local authority care. To support this, we have significantly increased funding for local authorities by 20 per cent and 28 per cent for under-16s and 16 and 17 year-olds respectively.
The Government’s long standing position is that it is better to provide support and resettle the most vulnerable refugees directly from the regions; this is how we stop traffickers and smugglers from exploiting vulnerable people and children affected by conflict. The UK has been at the forefront of the response to the events in Syria and the region, pledging over £2.46 billion in aid; our largest ever humanitarian response to a single crisis. We have also committed over £100 million of humanitarian support to help alleviate the Mediterranean migration crisis in Europe and North Africa. At the June European Council, the Prime Minister announced a further £75 million fund focused on managing migration challenges on the Central Mediterranean route.
The UK helped to launch and mobilise international support for UNICEF’s No Lost Generation Initiative (NLGI), providing £431 million of funding. This provides protection, basic mental health support and education for children affected by the Syria crisis.
Our aid spending is making a huge difference to the lives of children in the conflict region; for the same investment that it would take to support 3,000 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children under the age of 16 in the UK, we were able to help over 800,000 children in Syria and the surrounding region access healthcare, support, and education in 2016. Within Europe, the UK has also established a £10 million Refugee Children’s Fund to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe. The UK has also allocated £8 million to a new Women and Girls Protection Fund for the Mediterranean region. This assistance protects girls and women on the move by providing safe shelter, information and financial assistance.
The Government has taken significant steps to improve an already comprehensive approach to supporting asylum-seeking and refugee children. This important issue was debated during a Backbench Business Committee debate on Thursday 23 February 2017 before Parliament was dissolved ahead of the General Election.