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Government condemned for taking only 350 lone child refugees from Europe

A furious backlash has erupted after it emerged that only 350 lone child refugees will be brought to Britain from Europe under the so-called Dubs Amendment.

The number is well below the 3,000 campaigners originally called for the UK to accept.

Ministers introduced the scheme last year after coming under intense pressure to give sanctuary to lone youngsters stranded on the continent.

Calls for the measure were spearheaded by Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs, whose amendment requires the Government to relocate unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.

The clause did not specify a figure but on Wednesday it was revealed that 200 have so far arrived through the route - and it will close once another 150 have been brought to the UK.

Lord Dubs said: "Britain has a proud history of welcoming refugees.

"At a time when Donald Trump is banning refugees from America, it would be shameful if the UK followed suit by closing down this route to sanctuary for unaccompanied children just months after it was opened.

"During the Kindertransport Sir Nicky Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution virtually single-handedly. I was one of those lucky ones.

"It would be a terrible betrayal of his legacy if as a country we were unable to do more than this to help a new generation of child refugees."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron attacked the Government for a "betrayal of these vulnerable children and a betrayal of British values", while Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley described the announcement as "an absolute disgrace".

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: "The Government is completely wrong to close down the Dubs scheme and they are going against the spirit of Parliament's amendment last year."

The 350 figure was disclosed in a written statement from Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill.

It is the first time the Government has given a number for the Dubs process - officially Section 67 of the Immigration Act.

The total was reached after consultation with councils on their capacity to care for and support asylum-seeking children.

Mr Goodwill said: "Local authorities told us they have capacity for around 400 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children until the end of this financial year.

"We estimate that at least 50 of the family reunion cases transferred from France as part of the Calais clearance will require a local authority placement in cases where the family reunion does not work out."

In total 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were transferred to the UK from Europe last year, including more than 750 from France as part of Britain's support for the clearance of the Jungle camp in Calais.

More than 200 of those children met the criteria for the Dubs route, while the remainder were transferred under an accelerated process based on the Dublin Regulation covering family reunion cases.

No date for the closure of the Dubs scheme has been confirmed but it is expected that the remaining arrivals will be completed this year.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are not giving up on vulnerable children who are fleeing conflict and danger.

"Our commitment to resettle 350 unaccompanied children from Europe is just one way we are helping."

David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group, said: "Councils demonstrated tremendous leadership at a local, regional and national level in resettling the children from the Calais camp.

"The number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children living in England increased by more than 50% to over 4,000 in the last year, and the vast majority of councils are already providing care and support for these vulnerable children and young people."


From Belfast Telegraph