Supporting refugee children
Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Simmons, seconded by Councillor Arshad (speaking on behalf of Councillor Djafari-Marbini) and supported by Councillor Garden, proposed the submitted motion as set out in the agenda and briefing note.
After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.
Council resolved to adopt the following motion:
Council notes that, the world is experiencing the largest refugee crisis since World War Two with UNHCR figures of 68.5m people forcibly displaced. Over half of these are children, many unaccompanied.
Whilst in the EU we have been subject to the Dublin regulation which allows lone children within the EU to apply for legal family reunion with relatives elsewhere within the EU. So, for example, a Syrian orphan who arrives in Greece hoping to find a brother in Oxford has the right to apply to be reunited with him. But when we leave the EU, we will no longer be covered by the Dublin regulation.
In December 1938, the first Kindertransport arrived in Harwich, England. Through this scheme, Britain welcomed 10,000 child refugees, in just 10 months including Alf Dubs (a Labour peer and former MP).
When Theresa May’s withdrawal bill was going through parliament, Alf Dubs brought an amendment in the Lords that received cross-party support in both houses. This obliged the government to negotiate that the terms of the Dublin regulation would continue after we left the EU.
However, in Boris Johnson’s withdrawal bill, published just before Christmas and passed unamended, the rights of refugee children to be reunited with their families had been removed.
The only option remaining to them is to engage with illegal traffickers or take other dangerous routes. Lack of safe routes to the UK will only lead to further suffering for hugely traumatised children.
Lord Dubs is attempting to reintroduce the amendment into the withdrawal bill before the UK leaves the EU on 31 January 2020 and will no doubt continue to lobby for something with an effect similar to the Dublin regulation to be reinstated if this current attempt fails.
As a City of Sanctuary with a proud record of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, Oxford deplores the removal of the so-called ‘Dubs amendment’ from the withdrawal bill.
We ask the Leader to:
1. urgently write to the City’s MPs and the Secretary of State for the Home Department demanding that the rights of refugee children available under the Dublin regulation be reinstated.
2. write to the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council asking them to support the Safe Passage ‘Our Turn’ Campaign and commit to a target of ten at risk refugee children per year for the next ten years as part of a fully funded Government vulnerable children’s resettlement scheme.
Publication date: 03/02/2020
Date of decision: 27/01/2020
Decided at meeting: 27/01/2020 - Council