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LABOUR peer Alf Dubs will launch a last-ditch bid on Tuesday to save legal protections for child refugees stranded in Europe.
The House of Lords will vote on Lord Dubs’s new amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill in the afternoon to keep crucial rights for unaccompanied minors to be reunited with family in Britain.
Speaking at a rally outside Parliament today, Lord Dubs said he was “ashamed” of the government’s backtrack on legal protections for child refugees.
The protections were revoked in the latest EU Withdrawal Bill, which was passed in the Commons earlier this month.
“Who could be against children joining their family?” Lord Dubs asked protesters.
“It’s a simple request, it’s basic humanitarian rights and I’m ashamed that this country is doing what it's doing. It’s a scandal and it’s not being done in our name.”
Ministers have insisted that their position on reuniting child refugees with family in Britain remains unchanged.
But Lord Dubs and rights campaigners argue that without legal protections, safe routes for child refugees cannot be guaranteed.
At the protest, organised by NGO Safe Passage, SNP MP Stuart McDonald remarked that the Tories “could not be trusted” to keep their commitment while Green Party peer Jenny Jones accused the government of “sneaking through” the U-turn in its Brexit Bill.
Safe Passage, which works with unaccompanied child refugees in Europe, said that 95 per cent of children currently receiving legal support would not be eligible for family reunification under current immigration laws.
The group helped Ridwan, a refugee from Eritrea, to reunite with his aunt in Britain under the scheme. Speaking of his experiences at today’s protest, Ridwan said he had lost all hope for his future after his mother died in “tragic circumstances” and he was stranded in Italy.
But coming to Britain “gave me hope again,” he said. “All I want now is to do well in my A levels and help give others the opportunity to come here and have a future too.”
In northern France, where Safe Passage operates, hundreds of refugees are still living in informal settlements on the sides of roads, including children as young as 10. They are constantly moved on by police, who confiscate their tents, sleeping bags and belongings despite sub-zero temperatures.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott pledged Labour’s support for Lord Dubs’s new amendment, and urged the government to “live up to its responsibilities to refugees.”
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