We, in the City of Sanctuary network express our deep concern shared by many about the Government’s attitude to the refugee crisis and their lack of commitment to accommodating unaccompanied refugee children through the Dubs Amendment. We urge our supporters to be vigilant and continue building a vibrant network essential to provide welcome and safety to sanctuary seekers.
City of Sanctuary is a national grassroots led network of organisations and people promoting places of welcome and safety for sanctuary seekers fleeing from war, torture and persecution. We currently have +/- 90 cities and places of sanctuary in UK and Ireland. Inspired by the idea that ‘it is in the shelter of each other that people live’, we call on our supporters and those who share our vision and values to act compassionately towards refugees. Diversity is our strength and standing for justice, providing welcome and safety to sanctuary seekers is at the heart of what we do.
Last month the Government stated that only 150 more children would be accepted under the Dubs Amendment. However, data from local authorities shows that there are at least 368 spaces available. It is very concerning that many councils have reported that their offers to take more children were ignored by the Home Office.
Sadly, on the 7th March MPs voted 287–267 to close the Dubs Amendment, and to shut the door on about 3,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children living without protection in Europe. This is quite a disturbing decision based.
The Children and Social Work Bill was proposed to have an amendment by MP Heidi Allen, which required the government to assess each local council’s space allocation for unaccompanied minors. This is a step that would allow local authorities to make accurate calculations about how many children could be cared for under each local council. This is a step which should have happened far earlier if the government were seriously considering to uphold Dubs beyond the bare minimum.
Worst of all, the argument for upholding the cap of 350 children, is based on inaccurate information and politics of fear. Many councils have said they contacted the Home Office about available spaces and a willingness to take in child refugees, but were ignored.
Human Rights advisors have warned that closing the Dubs scheme would lead many minors into the hands of traffickers. If we aren’t willing to protect children, what is left?
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has perpetuated misinformed ideas by arguing that Dubs and other transfer schemes act as ‘pull factors’, that they promote the role of traffickers. These arguments are incorrect, and are used as excuses to neglect these young refugees.
Where is our moral compass, and compassion? We, in the city of sanctuary movement are concerned that if we do not stand up for these children, we will allow the UK government to decide that young unaccompanied children who have fled war and conflict seeking refuge in supposedly “safe” Europe, are not worthy of our help or care.