Scottish church leaders condemn child refugee scheme closure

Just 350 children will be brought to the UK under the amendment. Picture: Getty
Just 350 children will be brought to the UK under the amendment. Picture: Getty
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Church leaders have said it is “reprehensible” that the UK Government has capped the number of lone child refugees being brought to Britain.

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They have urged Westminster to reconsider, saying the decision to close the scheme is “premature and lacks both compassion and ambition”.

Controversy erupted after ministers announced on Wednesday that just 350 children will be brought to the UK under the Dubs amendment - far fewer than the 3,000 originally expected.

The scheme will come to an end after 150 unaccompanied children are brought to Britain, on top of 200 who have already arrived through the programme.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the church and society council of the Church of Scotland, and Honor Hania, chair of the commission for justice and peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “We were shocked and disappointed to learn that the UK Government intends to terminate the implementation of Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 - the ‘Dubs amendment’ to resettle unaccompanied asylum seeking children from Europe.

“To have stopped this programme at fewer than 12 per cent of the original commitment of 3,000 children is reprehensible.

“The UK Government statement said that it had consulted with local authorities about capacity, churches were not consulted by the Home Office. Church and community groups in the City of Glasgow have only recently begun a consultation process about how volunteers might assist in the programme of supporting child refugees.

“We are aware that many of these children have disappeared and their situation is complex. But it is hard to think of anyone more vulnerable. A decision to end the Dubs resettlement now is premature and lacks both compassion and ambition.

“We urge UK Government ministers to reconsider and we remain willing to work with the Home Office to find creative ways to deliver on the widespread expectation on the part of the general public to achieve the goal of 3,000 children as soon as possible.”

The UK Government was not tied under the amendment to any specific figure, but the announcement on Wednesday drew an angry response from critics who expected the final number to be far higher.

Scottish Equalities Secretary Angela Constance: “This is absolutely shameful from the UK Government. The Prime Minister must show leadership and take a humane stance on this issue and change her position.

“We should show our humanity and offer refuge to vulnerable unaccompanied children who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves displaced and separated from their families and homes.”

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