Ealing, Brighton and Oxford Councils latest to back Liberty and Help Refugees’ pledge to support unaccompanied refugee children

27 October 2016

Ealing, Brighton and Hove and Oxford City Councils are the latest local authorities to throw their support behind the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied refugee children – and to demand the Government urgently provide them with the resources they need to support children arriving in the UK from Calais and beyond.

They have joined Belfast and Lambeth councils – as well as nearly 300 individual councillors from all over the UK – in backing a campaign by Liberty and Help Refugees to bring vulnerable lone children from inhumane camps in Europe to safety in the UK.

Councillors signed Liberty’s pledge calling on central Government to deliver funding that would allow councils to properly meet the needs of asylum-seeking children placed in their care once they have made it to UK shores.

Much left to do

The Government committed in May to create a scheme proposed by Lord Dubs – himself a child of the Kindertransport – to resettle refugee children currently stranded in France, Greece and Italy.

Refugee children

The demolition of the Calais camp has forced the Government to act – and the arrival of children under the UK’s Dubs and Dublin commitments is welcome. But many children remain in Calais, either in shipping containers set up near the camp or forced to sleep rough. This desperate situation could have been avoided if our Government had intervened sooner.

The Government’s commitments under the Dubs scheme start with proactively taking in lone children stranded across Europe, but cannot truly be fulfilled unless adequate provision is made to allow local authorities to care for children once they arrive in this country.

Funding from central Government

The Local Government Association (LGA) remains concerned that the funding provided by central Government will not be enough to cover a full package of care and recently called for “long-term funding arrangements from government so that the commitment to support those children starting a new life in the UK is properly funded”.

Cllr Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “Meeting children as young as nine or ten living in terrible conditions in Calais was heart-breaking. They were in immediate danger telling me how at nights fights broke out in the camp and they were extremely frightened. All they wanted was somewhere safe to sleep at night and be able to go to school.

“Local authorities are facing a financial challenge but we cannot ignore these children and leave them in such appalling and dangerous conditions.”

Rachel Robinson, Policy Officer for Liberty, said: “Ealing, Brighton and Hove and Oxford Councils have now joined a growing number who stand willing to do everything in their power to safeguard vulnerable children.

“While it’s welcome that children are finally being given sanctuary in the UK, they deserve better than more chaos and uncertainty on their arrival – they need to be properly provided for, and that takes planning and long-term funding. The Government must keep its word and put these children’s lives back on track.”

Liberty is supporting an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill, currently working its way through Parliament, designed to ensure proper provision is made for the safeguarding of children identified for transfer under the Dubs scheme.

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 / 07973 831 128 or pressoffice@liberty-human-rights.org.uk