Author: FRÉA LOCKLEY
On 25 September, Lord Alf Dubs addressed the Labour Party conference. Dubs came to the UK as a child refugee and has become a champion of rights for today’s refugee children. And his speech gave new hope that, under a Labour government, thousands of refugee children might finally have the chance of safe passage.
Speaking to Labour delegates, Dubs offered a moving ray of hope. He made it clear that, under a Corbyn-led Labour government, more child refugees could travel safely to the UK and would be welcomed:
In 2016, Dubs proposed an amendment to ensure that lone children fleeing war and conflict could travel safely to the UK. Known as the ‘Dubs Amendment’, it established a legal way “to relocate and support unaccompanied refugee children from Europe”. This was intended to help “3,000 children from war-ravaged countries”.
Dubs explained that, in 2016, then home secretary Theresa May asked him to withdraw the amendment and said: “If we take these children, others will follow”. He ignored her, and the amendment passed through the Lords.
But in February 2017, 294 MPs overturned the amendment. And the Conservative track record on helping these unaccompanied children is shameful. Because since 2015, only 811 unaccompanied children have been reunited with family in the UK.
A crisis we can’t ignore
So Labour’s pledge to help child refugees is crucial.
According to charity Help Refugees, there are “currently 95,000 unaccompanied refugee children living in Europe”. And as Dubs previously said, refugee camps “are no place for adults let alone unaccompanied children and teenagers”. And without “safe and legal routes”, children face even greater dangers from smugglers and traffickers.
However much the Tories ignore this crisis, it hasn’t gone away. For thousands of unaccompanied child refugees, a Labour government offers at least some hope. So we need change and we need it now.