Immigration minister lifts barrier for 260 child refugees

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has lifted the barrier for 260 child refugees to come to the UK.

Ms Nokes made the announcement that she was removing the cut-off date criterion from applications for the most vulnerable unaccompanied children to seek sanctuary in a written ministerial statement.

The move means the stalled plan to allow 480 unaccompanied children from Europe under the Dubs amendment can now be fulfilled, after only 220 arrived from the Calais Jungle refugee camp in October 2016.

The minister said: “Following discussion with delivery partners, we have decided to remove the date criterion for when children had to have arrived in Europe to qualify for transfer to the UK.

“This decision means that participating states – France, Greece and Italy – will now be able to refer the most vulnerable children, regardless of when they arrived into Europe.

“To be eligible for the scheme, it must be in the child’s best interests to come to the UK, rather than to remain in their current host country, be transferred to another EU member state or to be reunited with family outside of Europe.”

Vanessa Redgrave and Lord Dubs
Vanessa Redgrave and Lord Dubs

Lord Dubs, who has led the campaign and was himself a child refugee who fled the Nazis on the Kindertransport to the UK, welcomed the shift.

He said: “It’s not a very big concession but it’s an important one because it means these children can finally come to the UK.

“It should happen quickly – within a few months – because there are I think 70 or 80 children who have been through vetting and are ready to come here immediately.”

Lord Dubs added he would continue to campaign for the UK to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport rescue scheme by giving shelter to 10,000 refugees over the next decade.

He said: “It works out at three children per council each year, so it could hardly be more modest.

“We’re going to keep pushing the Government because it is quite possible, quite feasible, and we have spoken to lots of local authorities who are willing to find these children homes.

“I have never argued for Britain to take all the refugees – just our fair share.”

The Kindertransport brought about 10,000 children aged between three and 17 to safety from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in the lead up to the Second World War.

Most were Jewish and more than half the children never saw their parents again.