Charities led by Save the Children are urging MPs on both sides of the house to back an amendment to the immigration bill tabled by the Labour peer Alf Dubs and passed by the House of Lords, which would force the government to accept 3,000 unaccompanied children.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, has written to every MP urging them to support the amendment. He said: “The vote on Monday is a test of Britain’s humanity. MPs must stand up for the values and traditions that make Britain great.”
Lord Dubs, who drew up the proposal, was a beneficiary of the kindertransport, the government-backed effort to accept child refugees from Germany in the run-up to the second world war.
At least 95,000 unaccompanied child refugees are estimated to have applied for asylum in Europe last year. The Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who is chair of the party’s refugee taskforce, has visited the migrant camps in Calais. She says many of the children at the sites are at risk of human trafficking and rape.
Europol, the EU’s criminal intelligence agency, estimated in January that 10,000 children had gone missing after arriving in Europe, warning that many had been taken by criminal gangs.
“In 50 years’ time, how will we look back on what we did in the Syrian refugee crisis?” Cooper said. “All we ask is for the government to say Britain will do its bit.”
The Home Office made an announcement last week about providing support for up to 3,000 child refugees from camps within the war-torn Middle East. But Save the Children and others said it was merely a re-announcement of aid already promised, and failed to offer any help to children already trapped in Europe.
Farron said: “The government has tried to muddy the water with a concession that will not help a single child who is alone and vulnerable in Europe. The orphaned children I have met need help and hope.”
The government’s statement appears to have convinced some Conservatives who had expressed concerns about the issue, however, including backbench MP David Burrowes, who said he would vote with the government on Monday.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/25/ministers-urged-to-let-in-3000-unaccompanied-child-refugees