Amber Rudd claims reports Government is not helping child refugees are 'fake news'

Home Secretary says they have settled thousands of children in the UK and the Dubs Amendment was only a 'one-off'

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 26 February 2017 16:10 GMT
Amber Rudd blames 'fake news' for misrepresenting child refugee situation

Amber Rudd says reports that the Government are not taking in child refugees were “fake news”.

Earlier this month the Government announced it would take just 350 unaccompanied child refugees from Syria under the Dubs amendment as councils said they had “capacity for around 400 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children until the end of this financial year”.

But in an interview with Robert Peston the Home Secretary rejected a question about whether they would reinstate the scheme to help children in France and Syria, saying they had already settled 8,000 children in the UK last year.

“Ok just in your question it shows that unfortunately the ‘fake news’ is settling out there,” she argued. “The fact is we took 8,000 children last year into this country and settled them. 3,000 arrived unaccompanied and illegally and have been settled here. These numbers are large”.

She said they had said there would be a consultation with local authorities under the terms of the Dubs amendment but it was always going to be a “one-off” and rejected calls to reinstate it.

Ms Rudd reiterated her stance that she believed the scheme was a “pull factor” for traffickers to smuggle vulnerable children into the UK and said that it was important to focus on taking children from Syria rather than Europe where they are “safe”.

She said: “Where are the most vulnerable children? Are they in the region or are they in France, Italy and Greece?”

“They are in the region which is why we are focused on the region.”

She also insisted that they were helping the children in the European camps because they had set up a £10m fund for them and accepted 900 children from the Calais camp "as a one-off" when it was closed last year.

But this is not enough as far as the architect of the scheme, Lord Alfred Dubs, is concerned.

Lord Dubs forced through the amendment to the Immigration Bill last year which meant the Government had to accept up to 4,000 child refugees under Section 67 of the act – so far only 200 have been accepted and they will be included in the final figure of 350.

He told The Independent the end to the scheme was “bitter disappointing” and would continue to fight for the rights of child refugees to come to the UK.

The peer, who was himself a child refugee who fled the Nazis, described the announcement in the House of Commons by Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill “sandwiched between PMQs and all these votes on Brexit” as “confusing” and “hidden”.

He said: “Up to lunchtime [on Wednesday] I was under the impression there was no cap”.

“[The government] recently said they would accept the letter and spirit of the amendment but they are manifestly not doing that.

“I think they’re using it as an excuse that local authorities don’t want to step up to the mark, and I think it is quite clear from the evidence that we have that local authorities would respond if asked.”

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