Lambeth Council backs Liberty and Help Refugees pledge to protect refugee children – and urges central Government to play its part

17 August 2016

Lambeth Council has thrown its support behind Liberty and Help Refugees’ Protect Refugee Children pledge – confirming its commitment to resettling children in desperate need and calling on the Government  to urgently play its part.

Liberty and Help Refugees have joined forces to harness the support of local councillors across the UK, in a bid to pressure the Government to deliver on its promise to bring unaccompanied refugee children in Europe to safety on our shores.

In May 2016, the Government committed to work with councils to resettle an unspecified number of children. Three months later, they have failed to deliver on their promise – despite widespread support for the scheme from local authorities across the country.

Lambeth Council members have unanimously backed the pledge, which has so far been signed by councillors from Argyll and Bute to Bournemouth.

The Liberty and Help Refugee pledge reads:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to create a resettlement scheme to bring unaccompanied refugee children in Europe to safety in the UK. We recognise and support the vital role that local councils can and should play in caring for children seeking sanctuary.

“We urge central government to provide funding to build the essential regional infrastructure necessary to secure the placement and support of children across the country and help us build them a brighter, safer future.”

 

 Ready and willing to help

After initial refusal, 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 in the UK.

However no children have so far been resettled – and the Government has yet to provide enough information about how the scheme will be implemented or funded.

Many councils across the UK stand ready and willing to help rehome these vulnerable asylum-seeking children, but – at a time when local authority resources are severely stretched – require central Government to deliver funding for the necessary infrastructure to properly care for them.

Help Refugees’ latest census of the ‘jungle’ in Calais revealed 608 unaccompanied children in the camp – an increase of 64 per cent since the Government committed to the Dubs Scheme. The youngest lone child is eight years old. Europol has estimated that 10,000 children have disappeared since registering in Europe.

Rachel Robinson, Policy Officer for Liberty, said: “As Lambeth has shown, councils across the UK stand ready and willing to help provide sanctuary for refugee children in desperate need.

“The Government must urgently explain how it plans to implement and fund the Dubs scheme to meet the immediate and long-term needs of children no matter where in the country they are placed, so councils like Lambeth can begin to help.

“We hope other authorities will follow in Lambeth’s footsteps by sending a clear message to central Government – the time for action is now.”

Cllr Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council, said: “Local and central government must work together to provide safety, stability and support to children in desperate need.

“Lambeth has a long history of offering refuge to people who have fled the most terrible conditions in other parts of the world. When children arrive here as refugees, completely alone after escaping terrible conditions, we have a responsibility to look after them and provide with a home where they can finally feel safe.”

  • You can sign up to Liberty's pledge, or encourage your councillors to do so, by visiting Liberty’s website.

 

Ends

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

Notes to editors:

  • A list of local government signatories to Liberty’s and Help Refugees’ statement can be viewed here.
  • Liberty is working with Lord Dubs on an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill designed to press the Government to explain how it will implement and fund the resettlement scheme.
  • Help Refugees’ census of the Calais Jungle can be viewed here.