David Cameron has reluctantly agreed to offer a lifeline to some of the lone children who have arrived in Europe seeking safety as a result of immense public pressure.
However, he simultaneously confirmed the Government’s commitment to pursuing a dangerous containment strategy for all other refugees trying to reach safety in Europe, repeating the line that refugees are best helped in the region and ignoring the fact that over a million arrived in Europe last year alone.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister confirmed the Government’s promise that it will act more quickly to help separated children who have relatives in Britain to realise their existing legal right to join their loved ones: a welcome step forward.
He also said the Government will work with Save the Children and local authorities to see what more can be done to help lone children who arrived in Europe prior to the EU-Turkey deal coming into effect.
The Government is refusing to put a number on how many children will be relocated to Britain from Italy and Greece but expects the first arrivals before the end of the year.
There will now be no vote on Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Bill, which was due to return to the House of Commons next week.
Responding to the plan, Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “Today’s announcement could potentially offer limited chances for some lone children to find safe haven in Britain.
“However, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking the Government has suddenly discovered its conscience while it’s simultaneously vilifying asylum seekers who are already in the UK and doing its best to trap all other refugees in poor countries.
“The British public have made themselves clear – refugees’ lives matter. The Government must stop trying to outsource its wider responsibilities and instead act quickly and generously to offer refugees safe passage.”