Find Calais' missing child refugees, Government urged

178 child refugees from the Calais jungle camp, given rights to settle in the UK, are still missing

Tom Peck@tompeck
Thursday 02 November 2017 18:13
The Calais jungle camp was forcibly shut down last year
The Calais jungle camp was forcibly shut down last year

The government has been urged to find the 178 refugee children in the Calais jungle who were granted the right to resettle in Britain and are still missing.

Labour backbench MP Stella Creasy brought a debate to the House of Commons to call for action to be taken to make contact with these missing children, who were given UK resettlement rights via the Dubs Amendment.

"A year ago I was trying to chase down with the Government what had happened to 178 children that the Prime Minister herself was directly notified about, and I have asked repeatedly about,” Ms Creasy said.

"Children who would have been ineligible to come here under the Dubs amendment.

"I have to tell the minister, a year-and-a-half on, I am still waiting for a response for the confidence that our Government knows what happened to those children who they were notified about who were in Calais at that point in time, and yet nobody is able to make contact with.

"Children who may be in this country, may be elsewhere, may be with traffickers.

"I make a plea to the minister, will he at least go and see if we can find out whether any of those children are safe on our shores, because I think we have to accept a responsibility that they came to us asking for help."

In the House of Lords, Lord Dubs, the Jewish peer who fled to the UK from Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, also urged the government to do more.

"Why can't we get a move on," he demanded. "Why should they lie there in Calais or in Greece. Nothing seems to be happening and yet the Government has made that commitment."

Lord Dubs said many local authorities were willing to take more child refugees and branded the situation in Calais "absolutely desperate".

He told ministers: "Public opinion is still on the side of our taking more child refugees. We should take our fair share."

Responding for the government, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis defended the UK's response to the conflict in Syria, saying: "We have pledged over £2.46 billion in aid and we will resettle 20,000 people in the UK by 2020 under the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme.

"Over 8,500 individuals are already here, around half of whom are children.

"We will also resettle 3,000 of the most vulnerable children and their family members from the Middle East and North Africa region by 2020 under the vulnerable children resettlement scheme."

Mr Lewis reiterated the Dubs scheme was still open.

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