Archbishop of Westminster says decision to end child refugee scheme 'shocking'

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The decision to end the lone child refugee scheme is "truly shocking" and should be reviewed, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said stopping the scheme would mean unaccompanied youngsters would be more likely to fall prey to human traffickers.

The Home Office said more than 900 minors were transferred to the UK last year, under either the Dublin Regulation because they have family links in this country, or under the Dubs amendment that requires the Government to give refuge to youngsters stranded in Europe.

But the Government sparked controversy when it emerged the Dubs scheme, named after its architect, Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs, will be capped once another 150 unaccompanied children are brought to Britain, on top of the 200 who have already arrived.

Campaigners and politicians had originally called for 3,000 to be resettled.

Cardinal Nichols is the latest high-profile figure to criticise the decision, following charities and the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The Archbishop of Westminster said: "By repealing Article 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, known as the Dubs amendment, the Government is seen by many as abandoning its statutory and moral duty to take effective action for the protection of vulnerable, unaccompanied child refugees.

"If this is the case, then it is truly shocking.

"The Home Office have stated that during 2016 over 900 unaccompanied children were brought to safety from Europe, including 750 from Calais.

"However, the need is evidently far greater and I am informed that there are a number of Local Authorities willing and resourced to take many more of these children into their care.

"I urge the Government to look again at all available resources and to work with renewed vigour, internationally and at home, to support and enable programmes to assist these vulnerable children."

He also urged those concerned about the scheme's closure to volunteer to take in refugees.

Lord Dubs, flanked by a group of children, local politicians and faith leaders, delivered a 50,000-signature petition to Number 10 on Saturday, accusing the Government of a "very shabby cop out".