UK Says It Will Take More Refugee Children After 'Administrative Error'
Refugees' lives are more than numbers.
The UK government has announced that another 130 child refugees will be welcomed into the country.
The decision on the relocation scheme for refugee children, known as the “Dub Scheme,” simply comes down to a miscalculation.
Less than three months ago, the government controversially ended the scheme after announcing that only 350 children would be accepted into the UK under the arrangement.
Now immigration minister Robert Goodwill has admitted that an “administrative error” was made, leading the government to underestimate the total number of children they should have accepted.
“The Government has very recently become aware that, due to an administrative error as part of collating the figures, one region pledged 130 places which were not accounted for in setting the specified number,” he said.
The original number was based on pledges from local authorities who set out how many child refugees they could each accommodate. It turns out the government missed a response from a region (whose location has not been specified) that offered to take in 130 children — more than a third of the original total. The number accepted will now rise to 480.
The Home Secretary, responsible for immigration and asylum policy, has written to her counterparts in France, Germany and Italy, as well as the UNHCR to identify the children that are eligible to be brought to the UK as soon as possible.
It is welcome news that 130 more refugee children will be offered safety in the UK, but the decision has been met with a mixed response.
Alex Fraser, director of refugee support at the British Red Cross, said:
“This confirms what we have been saying all along — that we all can and should be doing more to step up to the task of providing unaccompanied refugee children with a safe place to live.”
The oversight shows the extent to which it is easy to treat refugees as numbers, forgetting the real lives behind the statistics. After a fire tore through the refugee camp at Dunkirk, hundred of migrants and refugees were left without any form of shelter, including around 80 unaccompanied children. These young refugees are believed to be waiting to join family in the UK, but can find no legal route to do so.
Rabbi Janet Darley, spokesperson for Safe Passage, which provides legal assistance for unaccompanied child migrants, told the Guardian: “The children Safe Passage are working with in Dunkirk should never have been in the camp in the first place; they have a moral and a legal right to be with their relatives in the UK. The government needs to learn the lessons of the Calais camp and the fire in Dunkirk and put a fully functioning family reunion system in place between France and the UK.”
Global Citizen is currently campaigning for G20 leaders to take collective responsibility for the refugee crisis. Globally, 65 million people are forcibly displaced, and this burden largely falls on poorer countries — 89% of the world’s displaced people are hosted in developing nations. Yet the leaders of the 20 richest countries are best placed to respond to the ongoing crisis. When they come together in Germany in July 2017, refugees must be top of the agenda.