The dubs amendment was, simply put, a method by which unaccompanied child refugees could be taken from Calais to the UK and be relocated safely. It covered any person under the age of 18 who was unaccompanied and had made a claim for protection.
As of February 2017, 10,000 child refugees have gone missing in Europe with a further 95,000 unaccompanied and in need of help. It therefore does not require much thought to realise that a scheme designed to relocate and help these children is vital. Even though Lord Alfred Dubs, a child refugee who entered the UK after fleeing from the Nazis turned politician, after whom the scheme is named suggested that in excess of 3000 children could be safely brought over from Calais which despite being only 1 in 30 unaccompanied children, a mere scratch on the surface, it is better than none.
You may have been astounded therefore to learn that this week, MPs voted to put an end to the scheme after only 200 children had been brought over. I too did not understand the rationale behind this apparently cruel and heartless decision but after thinking for a while I came to realise that there are a few positives to putting an end to the scheme. I understand that this is controversial and I don’t suggest that not taking refugees from Calais is a good thing but there is some explanation.
The journey that many migrants take from the war-torn African and middle-Eastern countries across the Mediterranean, through Greece or Italy and up to England or Germany is one of great peril and risk. Every 1 in 42 people attempting to cross the Mediterranean are unsuccessful and die before even reaching the sanctuary of mainland Europe, so far that has amounted to 2,500 people.
I’m sure you can recall the photo of Alan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy who was found washed up on a beach in Turkey, the image of him being carried by a solemn looking Turkish policeman was on the front page of every mainstream newspaper and stunned the nation. this is the main motive behind putting an end to the scheme, too many young children are being persuaded to make the journey, both with families and alone, with the promise of a new life inside the UK and tragically not all of them make it.
One of the alternative methods proposed is that we can take refugees directly from Syria, Jordan or Egypt, which would help those who haven’t yet made the journey however it does not sort out the problem in Western Europe.
Ending the scheme will hopefully dissuade people from making the journey and save lives. It does not mean no child will be able to enter the UK by any means, it just means there may be a safer and more efficient process in future. A grand total of just 400 children will make it to the UK from Calais under the scheme, this number could, and should, be a lot larger.
I’m not saying I support the decision but I do understand that there is reasoning behind it and I hope and pray that under new legislation all children receive help. By no means am I suggesting that it is morally right to refuse entry to those in Calais but I do think that it is also incorrect to encourage people to put their lives in danger without the promise of entering the UK.
I understand that the points presented in this article are controversial and if you disagree I invite you to express your own opinions in the comments.