UK falls short in 'moral obligation', failing to help 1% of refugee children in urgent need

Posted On: 
8th February 2017

Kirsty McNeil, Save the Children Director of Policy and Campaigns, responds to announcement regarding the Dubs amendment saying the Government must "honour the spirit of the democratic decision to tackle the issue of lone children."

In 2015, Save the Children first demanded the UK take in its fair share of lone children seeking refuge in Europe and the public supported the idea, with 10,000 people offering a spare room to the organisation Homes for Good. 

The government's subsequent commitment to protecting these children was a proud victory of compassion in 2016. But the solution must match the scale of the need. Today's announcement to transfer only 150 children, out of the tens of thousands currently languishing in overwhelmed camps in Greece and Italy, is far short of the UK's ability and moral obligation. Helping 1% of the children in urgent need is the bare minimum, and defies the spirit of Global Britain.

Lessons must also be learned from the mishandling of children's needs during transfers from Calais. The criteria for eligibility were arbitrarily based on age or nationality. To truly protect the most vulnerable, each child must have their case heard, in their own language, by social workers who understand their best interests. Children who have family in the UK and the legal right to be reunited with them, remain stuck in France, alone and without their relatives.

The government's leadership has been proven through its Syrian resettlement scheme and programme for vulnerable families, but it must also honour the spirit of the democratic decision to tackle the issue of lone children, stranded in Europe and right now, preyed on by traffickers and suffering the gravest forms of exploitation. Save the Children sincerely hopes the scheme does not end here.