Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central, today branded the Tory government “a disgrace” for failing to fulfil its undertakings under the Dubs scheme to accept unaccompanied child refugees from camps in northern France.
Jones has been on a visit to the camps in Calais and Dunkirk.
The Dubs scheme – named after Labour peer Alf Dubs, who had come to Britain in the 1930s, escaping Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport – is supposed to allow for 480 unaccompanied child refugees to be granted sanctuary in Britain. So far, the Home Office has allowed entry to only 280.
And a judge in the Appeal Court ruled this week that the Government had broken the law in its treatment of child refugees in Calais, saying that some were refused entry to Britain under the Dubs Amendment were given “patently inadequate” reasons for the rejection of their applications.
Having visited the camps this week, delivering some aid that had been donated by Croydon residents, MP Jones was shocked, and concerned by the conditions she encountered.
“The situation is reaching crisis point,” Jones told Inside Croydon.
“Numbers are rapidly increasing and we saw lots of vulnerable children, some unaccompanied. Criminal gangs are operating within the population and there are huge risks for the children who we saw slipping off into the woods to hide. It’s a disgrace that the Government still refuses to take more child refugees under the Dubs scheme. So far we have taken just 280 unaccompanied child refugees.”
Jones took hundreds of items, donated by Croydon residents, to northern France to assist the refugees.
Jones had appealed for donations of essential items such as warm clothes, tents, sleeping bags and toiletries. The unprecedented number of donations were warmly received by volunteers from the charity Help Refugees.
Croydon tends to receive a higher proportion of refugees, and unaccompanied child refugees, than many local authorities, since on coming to Britain, many have to report to the Home Office’s Lunar House, which is in the Labour MP’s constituency.
After promising during last year’s election campaign that she would visit Calais to learn more about the ongoing refugee crisis, Jones spent time with volunteers working on the ground as well as with refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan. Jones visited several camps in the area, distributing more than 1,300 hot meals alongside the charity Refugee Community Kitchen.
Jones was able to hand out some of the clothing donated by Croydon residents to refugees around Calais on one of the daily operations run by Help Refugees. However, on her return the MP warned of a growing crisis as winter approaches and urged the Government to take action.
Jones criticised the Government for not doing more to help the growing number of vulnerable children sleeping in Calais. “I was blown away by the huge generosity shown by people in Croydon ahead of this trip,” Jones said.
“Croydon is such a diverse and welcoming place and the support shown for refugees living in unimaginable conditions has been overwhelming.
“Something as simple as a warm jumper or a sleeping bag can make such a big difference to people who have so little. The French police are confiscating essential items like tents every day. As we approach winter, these donations are so desperately needed, I urge anyone who can, to donate or make the journey to Calais to see for themselves.”
According to Help Refugees’ field manager in Calais, Josh Hallam, “We’re trying our best to respond by distributing sleeping bags, by distributing tents, by trying to provide people with the support that they need to survive in these conditions. As that gets into winter, and it gets below zero that’s going to become even harder, and it’s going to become life or death.”
Hallam called on the public to write to their MPs to pay closer attention to the growing emergency. “Because 2,000 people are here, facing these horrendous, completely avoidable conditions, with police violence, police intimidation, with lack of even basic facilities.”
- To find collection points for donations or information about making the journey to Calais visit https://helprefugees.org/donate-goods/
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