NICOLA Sturgeon has accused Theresa May of inhumanity over her government’s decision to scrap the Dubs Amendment, a key route into the UK for some of the thousands of lone refugee children stranded in Europe.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the SNP leader says she finds it “hard to understand why the UK Government would even consider the inhumane withdrawal of essential routes to safety for such a vulnerable group of children”.
On Wednesday, as MPs busily debated and voted on the triggering of Article 50, the government announced it was ending the scheme which was backed by Parliament last year. Proposed by Labour peer Alf Dubs – who had first come to the UK as a 10-year-old, fleeing Nazi Germany – the plan won support from MPs, who believed the government were going to try and take in 3000 lone refugee children.
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Instead, they took just 350, with 200 in the country just now and the other 150 coming before the end of March.
In her letter, Sturgeon warned that the “departure from the Dubs Amendment cuts off a vital route to safety”.
Under Dubs, there are 35 unaccompanied children now living in Scotland. Another 110 have come to the country through dangerous “clandestine routes in unimaginably traumatic circumstances”.
Under the Syrian Resettlement Programme there are now around 1300 Syrian refugees who have made their homes in our communities.
The First Minister went on to add that her government fully supports May’s commitments, but said this “barely touches the scale of the crisis”.
“I urge you to reverse the shameful decision on the Dubs Amendment which cuts off the only reliable and legal route for unaccompanied children arriving from Europe,” Sturgeon wrote in her letter to May.
“We all have a moral duty to do what we can to help those most in need so I look forward to your earliest response. The Scottish Government stands ready to work with you to provide a place of safety to children in the gravest of situations.”
Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the church and society council of the Church of Scotland, and Honor Hania, chair of the commission for justice and peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “A decision to end the Dubs resettlement now is premature and lacks both compassion and ambition.
“We urge UK Government ministers to reconsider and we remain willing to work with the Home Office to find creative ways to deliver on the widespread expectation on the part of the general public to achieve the goal of 3000 children as soon as possible.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said her party cannot accept the government’s decision.
“This seems to breach the spirit of the law passed with cross-party support,” she said. “Accepting 350 unaccompanied child refugees is far short of the expected 3000.
“There will no doubt be legal challenges to this decision.
“In any event, Labour commits to meeting the obligations of the Dubs Amendment. We will restore the scheme and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world.”