Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

'Truly Shameful' — Coldplay, Benedict Cumberbatch & More Urge Theresa May to Keep Dubs Scheme

UNICEF/UN048823/Ergen

More than 200 public figures have urged the UK government to continue the Dubs Scheme and accept more child refugees in a powerful open letter. 

Signed by Coldplay, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Lily Allen, Jude Law, and hundreds more high profile figures, the letter is the latest response to the UK government’s abrupt announcement that it would only accept 350 child refugees under the Dubs Scheme. 

Read More: The UK Just Scrapped Its Promise to Take In Unaccompanied Child Refugees

Named after the British parliamentarian Lord Alf Dubs, a former child refugee himself, the agreement offered a safe route to the UK for unaccompanied refugees in Europe. While the UK government had already agreed to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees from North Africa and the Middle East by 2020, the Dubs scheme particularly focused on lone children who had already made the dangerous crossing to Europe. Estimates suggest that there are up to 88,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe today

Yet, the UK government has announced it only plans to take a further 150 child refugees from Europe, bringing the total number transferred under the scheme to a mere 350. 

Thousands have spoken out against this decision. A petition launched by Citizens UK has generated more than 50,000 signatures, and was delivered to the Prime Minister by Lord Dubs on Saturday 11 February. 

Read More: 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees Now

Now Coldplay, Lily Allen, Gary Lineker, Carey Mulligan and more have added their voice to the outcry. 

The open letter reads:

Dear Prime Minister,

The government’s decision to close the “Dubs” lifeline for vulnerable refugee children is truly shameful.

The idea that as a country we will slam the door shut after just 350 children have reached safety is completely unacceptable.
Lord Dubs was himself a child saved by Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued 669 children virtually single-handed.

It is embarrassing that the Prime Minister’s entire government will not even manage to match the example set by her former constituent all those years ago, let alone the efforts of the Kindertransport movement of which he was a part which saved 10,000 children from the Nazis.

It is clear from the work of charities like Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project and Help Refugees with unaccompanied child refugees across Greece, Italy and France that where these safe and legal routes are blocked, children are left with a terrible choice between train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other.

The government’s threadbare consultation with councils is now nine months out of date.

The country we know and love is bigger than this. Communities and councils across the country stand ready to do more. The government must agree to extend the programme and re-consult with councils immediately.

Their voices join thousands across British society urging the government to reverse its decision. Barbara Winton, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who pioneered the Kindertransport scheme, reminded the prime minister of the words she had spoken about her father after his death.

“As my father’s MP, I know he deeply valued the relationship he had with you toward the end of his life, and at his memorial you very generously described him as ‘an enduring example of the difference that good people can make even in the darkest of times’ and said ‘I hope that his life will serve as an inspiration for us all ... and encourage us to do the right thing.’

“As the world once again teeters on the edge of dark times, I ask you to remember those words.”

Read More: Mr. President, We Don't Support Your Policy on Refugees

Award-winning director condemned the abandonment of the scheme as “disgraceful” in his recent Baftas acceptance speech. The Archbishop of Canterbury has also spoken out to say he was “saddened and shocked” at the government’s decision.

As more people add their voice in defence of the Dubs scheme, the open letter is a reminder that thousands across the country believe that fundamentally, “Britain is better than this.”