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Refugee children campaign not over

May 3, 2018 2:28 PM
By Robert Douglas in Congleton Chronicle

Dear Sir,

Following your publication of Mr Norbury's letter on 26th April, 2018, I am expecting a written apology from Mr Norbury for making a false claim about me when he stated I had not bothered to investigate the matter a little deeper to discover that the U.K. was the second largest provider regarding the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Mr Norbury is only referring to financial contributions made by countries and of course I was fully aware that the U.K. is the second largest contributor (in financial terms) in respect of humanitarian aid to Syria.

It is not surprising I knew this given it has been trumpeted from the rooftops by this Government to allay their guilt in reneging on the Dubs refugee scheme.

In 1938 Alfred Dubs (now Lord Dubs) was one of 669 mainly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia who escaped to the U.K. thanks to Nicholas Winton, who has been described as Britain's Oskar Schindler.

In April 2016 M.P.s voted for Lord Dubs' amendment to the Immigration Act to relocate to the U.K. about 3,000 refugee children who had reached Europe unaccompanied.

The fact that the Government in February, 2017 in a written statement from an Immigration Minister wound up the scheme after only committing to take in about 350 of the 3,000 refugee children was utterly shameful. This decision was supported by M.P.s in March 2017 by a small majority with 282 of the 287 who defeated the motion being Conservatives.

As Tim Farron said at the time "To not help vulnerable children in need is utterly heartless and heartbreaking."

Contrary to the impression given by Mr. Norbury in his letter, charities were equally damning against those M.P.s who defeated the motion. Citizens U.K. said it was "devastatated" by the vote. The children's charity Unicef said it was disappointed that the Government did not listen to the many M.P.s who wanted the U.K. to do more and Oxfam accused ministers of "closing the door on child refugees who have fled terrible violence".

Mr Norbury in his letter refers to problems such as refugees going missing and the failures in the system to protect children in Rotherham to justify stopping refugee children coming to the U.K. but that is no excuse for this country for washing its hands of this problem, like Pontius Pilate, and not trying to help.

If we had taken in about 3,000 refugee children, as we had committed to in 2016, the vast majority of them would almost certainly have had the opportunity to enjoy a much better future provided by one of the five richest countries in the world.

One has to wonder what would have happened to Alfred Dubs and the other 668 children if the U.K. had failed them in 1938 as this Government has failed the Syrian refugee children.

When the Dubs amendment was overturned, Lord Dubs said that he was "disappointed" but that "the campaign isn't over, our better nature will surely carry the day".

Lord Dubs is absolutely right the campaign is not over but we will not see our better nature return until the electorate replace this utterly shameful Government with a Government that does care about the disabled, the poorest in our Society and of course the refugees.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Douglas,

2 Hollycroft,

Congleton CW12 4SH