I have long believed that the Government should be doing more to help unaccompanied child refugees, both by reuniting those with family in the UK and by resettling some unaccompanied children under the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act 2016. It is thanks to the campaigns run by UNICEF and others over the course of 2016 that the Government eventually changed its position on this issue.
While it is welcome that hundreds of unaccompanied children who were present in the Calais 'Jungle' camp were transferred to the UK, I agree that there is more to be done particularly for those child refugees who are present in Greece and Italy. I would therefore like to hear more from the Government about any plans for expedited family reunion transfers under the Dublin regulation for these children.
The Government has previously stated that some unaccompanied children present in Greece and Italy would also be transferred to the UK under the Dubs scheme. However, I am very disappointed that the Government recently announced that the Dubs scheme will end after resettling only 350 unaccompanied children, whereas when Parliament debated and accepted the Dubs amendment last year the frequently mentioned number was 3,000.
We know that unaccompanied child refugees are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. I am therefore strongly of the view that the Government should recommit to meeting the obligations of the Dubs amendment, restore this scheme, and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world.
I can assure constituents that I will continue to follow this matter, and the Government's actions, very closely.