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Government Closes Its Child Refugee Scheme

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Home Secretary, Amber Rudd has announced that the child refugee scheme (known as the Dubs scheme), in which the Government pledged to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees is to close early, despite only admitting 350 children.

The announcement was sneaked out yesterday during the Brexit Bill debate, no doubt in the hope that it would be missed and escape scrutiny.

It didn’t.

Today pressure is mounting on Ms Rudd to justify her decision. In an urgent question in Parliament this morning, Labour’s Yvette Cooper called the move “shameful”.

Tory MP David Burrowes accused the Government of having “cut and run from child refugees”.

Amber Rudd argued this morning that, “we do not want to incentivise journeys to Europe.” She went on to say:

“The section 67 obligation was accepted on the measure that it would not act as a pull factor to Europe. The Government has a clear strategy and we believe this is the right approach.”

According to the Independent, Ms Rudd claimed she was “proud” of the Government’s policy on the issue. Later, when told children were returning to the camps in Calais, which were cleared last year, she said:

“Perhaps it is because they think they could continue to go to the UK. Does it help them? No it does not. What would help those children is if they could have their claims processed in France.”

She also stated that the Dubs scheme had become a magnet for people smugglers, commenting to the House of Commons, “I am clear that when working with my French counterparts they do not want us to indefinitely continue to accept children under the Dubs amendment because they specify, and I agree with them, that it acts as a draw. It acts as a pull. It encourages the people traffickers.”

Ms Rudd denied saying the Dubs scheme was to close, stating that it was merely reducing the number of children being brought to the UK.

However, Labour’s Stella Creasy told MPs it was estimated that 50 refugee children a day were now arriving back in Calais to, “sleep in mud and cold because the UK and French governments appear to be in a game of chicken as to who will take responsibility for them.”

The Dubs amendment was passed by former Prime Minister, David Cameron in May 2016 following widespread public fury over the fate of child refugees alone and vulnerable in camps in Greece, France and Italy.

Fierce criticism

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott commented, “The worst thing about this Government’s failure to step up to the totality of the refugee crisis is the children.

“How does she live with herself leaving thousands of people, members opposite can jeer, leaving thousands of children, subject to disease, people trafficking, squalor and hopelessness?”

The Guardian reports that charities have hit out at the Government's claims about the scheme. Steve Symonds, director of Amnesty International UK's refugee and migrant rights programme, said, “The Home Secretary has this horribly wrong. By restricting its commitment to providing a safe route out of deprived, demeaning and dangerous situations elsewhere, the Government will only exacerbate the risk that these children fall victim to traffickers and other abusers.”

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