The Home Office has refused to respond to official requests from the French authorities to accept unaccompanied child refugees stranded in Calais who are eligible to come to Britain, the British Red Cross has said. In some cases British officials claim to have “misplaced” requests from the French to help children, raising questions over Britain’s approach to what humanitarian experts call an urgent child protection issue.
The Red Cross revealed it takes up to 11 months on average to bring a child to the UK under an EU scheme to reunite families. Lawyers say there is no reason why the process should take more than several weeks. As yet only 72 unaccompanied refugee children from Calais have been brought to the UK under a scheme to reunite families under an EU rule known as the Dublin regulation. Even in these cases, charities accuse the Home Office of not helping, saying that the process and legal costs have been paid by voluntary organisations and lawyers working pro bono. At least 178 unaccompanied children have been identified in the Calais camp as having family ties to the UK, with more than another 200 eligible to come to Britain under a separate scheme, an amendment to the Immigration Act put forward by Lord Dubs. Despite its being passed into legislation on 9 May, the Home Office has not to resettle a single child using the Dubs amendment.
“The spirit of the Dubs amendment – to assist the most vulnerable children in Europe” is not being met, says the report.
Ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams joined by the bishops of Durham, Manchester, Barking, Stepney and Southwark and Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Harun Rashid Khan and Laura Janner-Klausner, the senior rabbi to the Movement of Reform Judaism are among those to sign the open letter to Theresa May urging the PM to allow nearly 400 refugee children into the UK before the "Jungle" migrant camp near Calais is demolished.