Rudd’s bar on child refugees draws local protest
A new group calling itself Hastings Kindertransport 2017 – a reference to the rescue operations which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to the UK to save them from the Nazis between 1938 and 1940 – protested at the weekend against Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s decision to wind up a scheme for bringing unaccompanied child refugees into the country. Here they explain their action.
Around 50 people gathered outside Home Secretary and Hastings MP Amber Rudd’s house in Hastings on Sunday to demand that she admit more refugee children into the UK. They held a large banner with Amber Rudd’s words from a speech at last October’s Tory party conference – “Our compassion does not stop at the border” – and hand-delivered a letter to her house.
Last week Amber Rudd announced that she was scrapping a scheme to bring unaccompanied child refugees to Britain, after just 150 children had arrived (with another 200 apparently promised entry). The scheme was a project of Lord Dubs, who arrived in Britain as a child refugee from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. Last year, he sponsored an amendment to the Immigration Act which would require the government to accept a number of unaccompanied refugee children. Although a number was not given in the final amendment, Lord Dubs originally proposed a figure of 3,000.
Amber Rudd justified the ending of the scheme by claiming that it ‘incentivised’ children to travel to the UK and that “the specified number of 350 children… reasonably meets the intention and spirit behind the provision.” She has been criticised for her decision not only by opposition MPs and prominent figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury but also by senior Tory MPs. A number of local authorities have also criticised Ms Rudd, claiming that their offers to take in and support more refugee children have been ignored by the Home Office.
A spokesperson for the group Hastings Kindertransport 2017, which organised the protest, said, “Last year Amber Rudd said that her compassion did not stop at the border. However, her actions in cutting short the scheme to bring vulnerable child refugees into the UK, show very clearly that her compassion is spent. Many local authorities, including Hastings, are willing and able to support some of these children, but the Home Office is nonetheless intent on refusing them entry.
“This stance is absolutely inhumane. Amber Rudd has a comfortable home, unlike these children, so we came here to demand that she honour the spirit of the Dubs amendment and agree to let in at least 3,000 of the refugee children who are living in dangerous and squalid conditions across the Channel.”
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