Scottish and Welsh governments unite to express frustration at UK approach to child refugees
In a joint letter the Scottish and Welsh Governments backed calls for more children to be included in the Dubs Scheme for resettling lone child refugees
The Scottish and Welsh governments have come together to express their frustration with the way the UK Government has gone about resettling unaccompanied child refugees.
In a joint letter to UK Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis, the Scottish and Welsh Governments lent their support to calls for more children to be included in the Dubs Scheme for resettling lone child refugees.
The letter, signed by Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance and Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant, also backed calls to expand the criteria for resettlement so it does not exclude vulnerable children due to their age or nationality and a revised cut-off date.
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Lewis took over as Immigration Minister last month, using a statement in parliament to reassert the UK Government’s strategy in helping and supporting vulnerable children.
He said: “Our approach continues to be to take refugees directly from conflict regions, providing refugees with a more direct and safe route to the UK, rather than risking the hazardous journey to Europe.”
But the two devolved administrations reported concern over the implementation of the Dubs scheme, warning: “We have struggled with the lack of information that has been forthcoming from those running this operation. This continues to be the case and we are aware that only a couple of hundred unaccompanied children have been transferred of the 480 placements identified.”
The letter adds: “We both feel that overall, the lack of planning and sharing of useful information from coordinators has inhibited our ability to plan ahead. We are seeking assurances from you that steps have been taken or are being put into place to mitigate against a repeat of these circumstances.”
The Scottish and Welsh ministers also rejected UK Government claims that offering refuge to those who have already reached Europe would encourage more people to make the journey from conflict zones.
Quoting the report of the Human Trafficking Inquiry, initiated by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery, the joint letter says: “‘The inquiry found no evidence that providing a safe route for children to travel to the UK acted as a ‘pull factor’ or encouraged traffickers.
“Instead the evidence showed that leaving children without safe and legal options left them in limbo, stranded in dangerous and often violent situations. In many instances this resulted in children turning to smugglers, putting themselves at risk of dangerous journeys and of exploitation to pay the smugglers.’”
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