21 April 2017
Green Councillor Leo Littman has pushed Brighton and Hove City Council to raise concerns with Government over the plight of child refugees, in a joint proposal put forward with Labour colleagues.
Greens have slammed the Government’s decision to close down the so-called ‘Dubs amendment,’ a scheme set up to provide a safe route to sanctuary for around 3000 unaccompanied refugee children staying in camps in Europe. Brighton and Hove City Council, who worked with the Government to offer places to children in need, received four young people as a direct result of the plan. Yet following an announcement in February, Councils across the UK will have their offer to re-house children refused as only 150 more children will be accepted under the scheme.
Councillor Littman, who helped establish Brighton and Hove as a recognised ‘City of Sanctuary’ for refugees, said:
“I am pleased that our recent joint proposal to request more support and funding from Government for child refugees has been supported by all. The Government’s attempt to pull back from a commitment to help 3000 children is unacceptable and must be challenged.
"Just a few days after our proposal was accepted, one of the largest refugee camps in Dunkirk went up in flames. It’s estimated that since the fire 120 unaccompanied minors, at least 50 with a family in the UK have been displaced, wandering the streets or worse. The Government has tried to wash its hands of this crisis, saying their ‘hands are tied’ because local Councils will not create more capacity – but this is just passing blame. In fact, the Government even threw out a Parliamentary Bill that asked for exact figures on how many people each Council could take.
“Brighton and Hove, as a City of Sanctuary is willing to aid refugees. I know there are many families waiting to assist children in desperate need but are being failed by a slow, negligent process. Rather than pulling up the drawbridge and closing the Dubs scheme, we demand that our Government honours its commitment to help young people. Together with our Labour colleagues we are calling on the Home Secretary to provide the funding and support necessary to make a difference– or put more bluntly, to simply do the right thing.”
Councillor Amanda Knight, member of the Corporate Parenting Board, added:
“It’s good to see that the whole Council still supports the fundamental principles of safety and sanctuary for children who have fled their homes, alone. We Greens will always support finding refuge for these young people in our city yet we urge the Government to reconsider its moral and funding commitments to support these survivors. Turning our back on the Dubs amendment sends a worrying message to all children - not only those seeking asylum - about their value and their right to safety. The Government can and should do more. From the excellent work of our local charities such as the Hummingbird Project and our residents it’s clear the city won’t stand by and that Brighton and Hove is proud to push for more action.”
1] Green-Labour Notice of Motion ‘Support for Unaccompanied Children in Refugee Camps’ was voted through at Full Council, Apr 6th ()
2] The Guardian newspaper has revealed there are 368 more spaces available according to many local authorities and that not all Councils are ‘at capacity.’
“Announcing the cap last month, Home Office officials claimed that it was necessary because no more spaces were available to accommodate them. However, freedom of information responses collated by the Observer from dozens of UK councils paint a very different picture. There are at least 368 more spaces available for unaccompanied minors in the UK, under the national transfer scheme for asylum-seeking children.”
(‘Councils ask why offer to house refugee children was turned down,’ The Guardian, 04.03.17)