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Protesters outside Home Secretary Amber Rudd's house demand justice for child refugees (photo: Peace News).

Protesters outside Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s house demand justice for child refugees (photo: Peace News).

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.

Compassion spent

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.”


Posted 18:58 Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017 In: Politics


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  1. S.Moore

    A couple of years ago I interviewed a friend who was in her 80s on her experience as a 15 year old kindertransport refugee. It was a really interesting experience hearing first hand what it was like for Margarette coming over here on her own, not knowing anyone. She actually helped look after a baby who was unaccompanied, as no adults were allowed from then on. It is pure chance where we are born and maybe our government should remember this when reneging on their original promise of helping these young children.

    Comment by S.Moore — Friday, Mar 31, 2017 @ 18:14

  2. martuchy

    Whilst people sit and argue about ‘who is taking in who’ and’ who isn’t taking in who’ and ‘who has more room than who’…….children are dying! there isn’t time to argue!

    Comment by martuchy — Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 @ 21:41

  3. Mattie

    such an emotive topic but it’s important to be rational when considering the facts. Bringing hundreds of children over when the system can barely cope as it is will only lead to further abuse, neglect and exploitation. Britain is one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to helping refugees, and the stats show that we can do far more good by helping people who have escaped to neighbouring countries than we can by bringing them over here. We can also help more people this way. I’m sure this group have their hearts in the right place but frankly, the reference to Nazi Germany is pretty ignorant and insulting. The holocaust was a uniquely horrific phenomenon – you can’t just appropriate it for any bit of what you perceive as social injustice! PS the rich Arab countries have taken no refugees from Syria – surely this is the real scandal?

    Comment by Mattie — Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 @ 14:05

  4. DAR

    Agree with Ms Doubtfire. The Kindertransport comparison is spurious, I would suggest. While those WW2 were clearly in fear of their lives, most of these “children” are economic migrants whose families will keep sending them if we keep taking them. And I would ask all those who are happy to let in anyone who wants to come here, “How can governments and local authorities plan ahead if they have no idea how many extra people they have to cater for year on year?” Also, I would argue that, in general immigration terms, should we be “poaching” the skills or potential skills of poorer countries? Or training more of our own? Discuss.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 @ 10:51

  5. Ms. doubtfire

    It is possible that people have lost confidence in these schemes to help these children due to the fact it was pretty obvious that many ‘children’ who were rescued from these terrible camps were not children at all but young adult men.
    It is little wonder that there is due caution now. And one has to ask why countries like Australia and New Zealand are not in the running for taking some of these refugees. These are large countries with plenty of space and capacity far above ours.
    Our NHS service is falling apart, our own housing needs are not being met, and it does seem grossly unfair that we are being criticised by this group of local residents who stand outside the Home Secretary’s door. It simply is not feasible for us to continue taking in uncontrolled numbers. Time for other countries to put out their hands in offers of sanctuary.

    Comment by Ms. doubtfire — Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 @ 09:07

  6. siobhan hanlon

    perhaps another campaign on change.org would be appropriate this is disgusting. these children are not responsible for what has happened. they now need support not more abandoment. dreadful put pressure on the government and amber now to undo this ruling.

    Comment by siobhan hanlon — Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 @ 08:00

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