The Tories have backtracked on yet another pledge, and this time it’s children who’ll suffer

Syrian girl holding doll in a refugee camp in Serbia
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

On 9 January, a vote passed in parliament to remove protections for child refugees from the Brexit bill. The vote means that after Brexit, child refugees in EU countries won’t be able to join their families in the UK.

It also breaks a cross-party pledge, made in 2018, to safeguard these children.

“Shameful”

Many people have expressed their outrage over this government’s cruelty:

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And shadow home secretary Diane Abbott described the development as “shameful”:

“Disappointing”

Moreover, there are serious concerns about the risk this change creates for child refugees, including making them vulnerable to traffickers:

Labour peer Alf Dubs has also said this decision will create greater risks for child refugees, as they could end up trying to enter the UK using unsafe means.

Writing in the Guardian, Dubs described the situation facing refugee children:

I’ve visited the camps in Greece and Calais, where I have met many children without families. Some are in refugee camps, but others live rough, in woods, on the streets or even on rubbish tips, with some support from NGOs. I can think of little more frightening than to be a child in a foreign country with no family, unable to speak the language, sleeping rough.

The Tories have backtracked on a cross-party pledge put forward by Dubs that was agreed in 2018. In an interview with the Metro, Dubs described the outcome of the vote as “very disappointing indeed”. But despite the Commons vote, he is adamant that he “is not giving up”.​

Dubs also shared his experience as a child refugee and his reasons for campaigning on this issue:

 

Refugees welcome

But Dubs isn’t the only person who shared their experiences. On Twitter, people shared personal stories of how crucial it was for them and their families to be able to seek refuge in the UK:

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, whose father fled to the UK to escape the Nazis, voted against protections for child refugees.

With Boris “we will send you back” Johnson in charge, it’s no surprise that Britain refuses to be a country that welcomes refugees. It’s clear that even children aren’t safe from this government’s racism and xenophobia. And now, more than ever, we need to mobilise against it.

Featured image via Flickr/ Freedom House

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